The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP begins Ayodhya satyagraha

New Delhi, March 27: Thousands of VHP activists marched in the capital today as the outfit launched its weeklong satyagraha, demanding handover of the entire Ayodhya land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust for construction of a Ram temple.

The VHP hopes to force the Centre to bring in a legislation for handing over the land as the dispute has remained unresolved.

Led by VHP president Ashok Singhal, senior leader Mahant Avaidyanath and Ramchandradas Paramhans, head of the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust, a large number of activists courted arrest in protest against the BJP-led government for “doing nothing” in favour of temple construction despite having come to power on the Ram temple “plank”. Among those arrested were sants and sadhus. The activists had come from nine states. The satyagraha will continue till April 2.

VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadia said the outfit would decide its future course of action during the satyagraha and warned that “extreme steps may be announced if the Centre does not budge by April 2”.

Vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore claimed that a total of 37,193 workers and leaders had courted arrest. Calling it the “final battle”, he said the satyagraha was the first phase of the agitation. The next step would be collecting signatures of all members of Parliament cutting across party lines. The final phase would be taking the agitation to the villages.

“We were demanding the undisputed land and hoped that we will get it by March 27 but we did not. Now our fight is for both the disputed and the undisputed land,” Kishore said. Borrowing a phrase which the Prime Minister had used in connection with Pakistan, he said the VHP’s fight was an “aar par ki ladai” (fight to the finish).

“The government has turned a deaf ear and the court is delaying the matter. So we will make law through Parliament,” Kishore added.

Togadia said Muslims should “vacate” the land near the Kashi and Mathura temples and asserted that it “did not need any excavation” to prove that the land on which the mosques in Kashi and Mathura stood belonged to Hindus”.

“Even if the Ayodhya excavation establishes the existence of a temple, there is no guarantee that Muslims will give up their claim. They are not honest,” he added. “Let the Muslims prove their honesty by handing over the Kashi and Mathura land to the Hindus.”

Togadia accused the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government of doing nothing for the temple cause even after being in power for five years. He said the VHP expected the BJP to take the initiative in bringing a legislation in Parliament in favour of temple construction as “courts cannot decide on a matter of faith and sentiments”.

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