The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam, VHP keep rally plans under veil

Lucknow, Oct. 14: With battlelines drawn for the Ayodhya march, both the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Mulayam Singh Yadav government are keeping their cards close to their chest.

The VHP is refusing to divulge the names of its leaders who will take the dais tomorrow morning at Saraswati Shishu Mandir in Nirala Nagar. The government will not tell if it plans to arrest the leaders in Lucknow or allow them to march to Ayodhya for Asta Chakra darshan on October 17.

The state organising secretary of the VHP, P.M. Singh, said the outfit’s leaders and sadhus would be present at the mandir before the Shobha Yatra starts at 10 am. Asked for the names of VHP leaders joining the march, he said: “I don’t know.” It is learnt that Acharya Giriraj Kishore would be present.

Chief secretary A.P. Singh said all arrangements have been made on the route. Asked if the VHP leaders would be allowed to go beyond Lucknow, he said: “We would take a decision on the spot after seeing the crowd.”

The government has cancelled two shuttle trains, one between Varanasi and Faziabad, and the other between Allahabad and Faizabad. Unconfirmed reports said the state government had requested cancellation of over 40 trains.

Faced with continuing crackdown, VHP supporters approached the very court they had threatened to defy. Thirty-three “Ram bhakts” today filed a writ with the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. The court had earlier issued a directive to maintain status quo in Ayodhya. The group alleged illegal detention and said their right to peacefully visit any place was violated.

“Ram sevaks” have been trickling into Lucknow in batches. About 500 sevaks from Assam, Rajasthan and Gujarat are camping at the mandir.

VHP leaders said police have arrested 40,000 activists, but they still expect a crowd of 50,000. Much of it will depend on local support, which appears lacking. Only a few hundred activists turned up at Kanpur station today. VHP leader Ashok Singhal had claimed that over 30,000 would come.

Though the RSS and the VHP have deployed their most trusted workers to mobilise support from 11 districts adjoining Faizabad, the response has been far from expected. Most of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case are from the region.

“The BJP and VHP leaders used us as cannon fodder and discarded us. They remember the Ram temple only when elections approach,” said Santosh Dubey, a demolition accused.

Intelligence reports suggest VHP activists have sneaked into areas bordering Faizabad and will walk to Ayodhya between midnight and 6 am.

The region has been turned into a fortress with heavy police presence. The Provincial Armed Constabulary is patrolling rivers Saryu and Kalyani. Police have seized private boats, said Shyam Narayan Singh, the station house officer of Ram Sanahe Ghat police station, 66 km from Ayodhya.

BJP state chief Vinay Katiyar visited the temple town and met Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chief Nritya Gopal Das, the only VHP leader left there. Most other local mahants have chosen to keep away from the march.

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