Lucknow, Oct. 11: Armed with Allahabad High Court’s directive to ensure status quo, the Uttar Pradesh government today foiled the Shiv Sena’s attempt to hold a meeting of Ram bhakts in Ayodhya.
Police arrested over 1,000 activists, including two state unit vice-presidents, when they tried to defy prohibitory orders. Last night, Sena MPs Shivaji Rao Mane and Chandrakant Khaire were detained in Barabanki while on their way to Faizabad.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal warned against “repression of Ram bhakts” but Mulayam Singh Yadav said his government was committed to honouring the court directive. The chief minister’s stand hints the VHP’s proposed Ayodhya march on October 17 may not be allowed.
Apart from the police and the Provincial Armed Constabulary, the state government has deployed 80 companies of central forces. “We will not allow outsiders to reach Ayodhya and congregate,” Faizabad zone inspector-general B.. Rai said.
The police clampdown on the Sainiks started last evening, when they began converging in adjoining districts. Many put up in temples for the night.
Arrests continued till this afternoon as groups of slogan-shouting activists tried to reach Ram Katha park, the proposed venue of the sammelan.
Sena state unit vice-presidents Babu Mishra and Mahesh Ahuja were arrested along with 500 party workers near Naya Ghat, close to the meet venue, when they tried to breach the security cordon. Some were picked up at the railway station and at bus stands from where they were proceeding in small groups.
As the Sainiks were sent to jail, Mishra and Ahuja claimed they had “succeeded in holding the meet despite the ban”. They said their strategy would be chalked out at a meeting later.
Faizabad district officials claimed normal life was unaffected as shops and business establishments remained open and transport plied as usual. But public transport was banned at Terhi bazar, a predominantly Muslim locality, as a precaution.
Official sources said raids had been conducted on several temples in which the activists were believed to have taken shelter for the night. Intensive search operations were carried out in Faizabad and Ayodhya-bound trains and buses.
The state home secretary and the director-general of police reviewed security arrangements in Ayodhya this evening amid reports that Ram bhakts from other states had started moving toward Faizabad for the VHP’s big show. Prohibitory orders are in force till October 31.
The authorities have decided to detain the rallyists in the “blue zone”, comprising Barabanki, Sultanpur and other districts adjoining Ayodhya and Faizabad, and not permit them to enter the temple town. The “green zone”, comprising the periphery of the disputed area and the acquired land, will remain inaccessible and the innermost “red zone” will be sealed.