The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi advises kid-glove policy

New Delhi, Oct. 15: Unsettled by the arrest of Vishwa Hindu Parishad veteran Acharya Giriraj Kishore, the Centre asked Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav not to go in for a confrontation with the VHP.

Mulayam Singh was also advised not to deny the “Ram bhakts” the right of worship at the Ram Lalla temple inside the “disputed” complex and permit them to enter in groups of five or 10, if necessary.

Deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani, who spoke to Mulayam Singh today, told newspersons: “I hope the whole thing passes off peacefully.” Asked if he considered Kishore’s arrest as a “provocative” act, he said: “I will not say anything.”

Sources close to Advani said he advised the Uttar Pradesh chief minister not to adopt a “confrontationist” attitude towards the VHP because its leaders as well as those of the RSS had assured that their programme would be “peaceful”.

Mulayam Singh, who was in Bhopal to address a party rally, was told by Advani that keeping the assurance in mind, the Centre decided not to divert trains going to Ayodhya and Faizabad.

“We are not seeing it as an alarm situation. There is no chance of communal violence breaking out because of the arrests,” sources close to Advani said.

The RSS — which mediated actively between the VHP and the Centre — was miffed by the arrests. It described the move as “provocative and unwarranted” and demanded the immediate removal of all “hurdles” preventing the faithfuls from reaching Ayodhya.

In a statement released today, RSS sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan also directed the “Ram bhakts” to maintain utmost restraint. The RSS, he explained, supported the VHP’s programme after getting a commitment that it will be peaceful and constitutional and called on leaders and activists to “carry it forward in the same spirit”.

That the VHP would keep its word and not get overly provoked by the arrests was apparent in a speech given by its general secretary Praveen Togadia in a public meeting this morning at Ramlila Maidan.

The usually feisty Togadia refrained from attacking the Prime Minister and said: “I wish to tell the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government that if by this evening, they allow all trains, buses and other vehicles to go into Ayodhya, we will hold a peaceful programme. We are not given to indulging in disruption. But if you (Mulayam Singh) do not stop your repression, we will not be able to control Hindu sentiment.”

But the warning appeared hollow given the size of the gathering and, more important, the mood.

As the sun beat down on the open ground, speaker after speaker urged VHP activists to come out of the shade of the pandal that was erected for those from outside Delhi and put up with the heat and the dust like the others. The “others” were outnumbered by those who sought shelter in the pandal.

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