The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sadhu salve for Faizabad

Lucknow, Oct. 14: The minority community in Faizabad has found unexpected support from the religious leaders of various akharas in Ayodhya, ahead of the VHP’s October 17 march.

Armed with the sadhus’ assurance of peace, the community can lay to rest the ghost of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots, evoked every time a kar seva or shiladaan or Asta Chakra darshan is announced in the temple town.

Today, the sadhus led by Hanumangarhi temple chief Mahant Gyandas took out a peace march in Faizabad, assuring 4,000 minority community families of their support and peace on Friday.

Gyandas requested the families to stay on, dissuading them from their routine at such times of packing up and moving out to relatives.

“Trust us, you will be safe. There will not be any repeat of 1992. We are with you,” Gyandas told the worried families.

The peace march, joined by 500 sadhus, passed through Hashim-Kasim, Tehri Bazar, Katra and the Ramjanmabhoomi area. The participants visited each family, asking them to take back their decision of moving out.

“After we spoke to them, they decided not to leave their homes,” Gyandas said.

If the sadhus had not come out with the assurance, the minority community families would have prayed and thanked their stars if the assembly at Ayodhya passed off peacefully and hoped never to see a repeat.

There was no way, however, to assess if the support from unexpected quarters was extended with the purpose of gaining some political mileage. The sadhus of the various akharas are known to be opposed to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Gyandas is a known VHP-baiter. He said the outfit was only putting up an act of anti-BJP stance by targeting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when in reality it “is just an election stunt”.

According to Gyandas, the parishad was desperate as the man on the street had seen through its designs. “If October 17 passes off peacefully, then they are in for a hard time as it (temple dispute) will not become an election issue. That is why the VHP wants to raise tempers and is threatening confrontation and riots,” he said.

Gyandas himself is controversial enough. He had accused VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia of “murdering” Ramchandradas Paramhans in June this year.

He had accused the VHP of withdrawing the life-support system from the late chief of the Digambar akhara as he had opposed violence over the proposed temple and vowed to build it through peaceful and spiritual means. On his wish, Paramhans had been shifted from hospital to the akhara, where he died.

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