Ayodhya, Oct. 18: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad today saved face by holding a sankalp sabha at Karsevakpuram a day after it was foiled by the government.
Ashok Singhal, other VHP leaders and sadhus, who assured the government of peaceful conduct, attended the meeting and pledged to fight for construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site.
About 14,000 people released from custody in the state last evening on the orders of chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav poured into Ayodhya for the meeting. A good number left after paying obeisance at the makeshift temple long before the meeting began around 2 pm, after being postponed from morning.
Among the participants was general secretary Praveen Togadia, arrested on arrival in Lucknow this morning and later released.
Inspector-general V.. Rai said the meeting was allowed because the VHP cadre appeared mellowed. “The crowd is very peaceful and most of them are leaving after darshan at the temple,” he said. “We never had a problem with the meeting but were concerned with their militant mood.”
The temple town was peaceful after a day of action and drama. Most shops were open and people moved around freely.
“We are thankful the event passed off with minor skirmishes in a limited area. The administration tackled the situation well,” said Mahant Gyandas, the head priest of Hanumangarhi temple.
Shopkeepers heaved a sigh of relief as the fortnight-long hype over the rally followed by five days of tight security measures had dried up the flow of pilgrims. Kartik Mela is the earning season for the town which survives on small business.
“Last year’s shiladaan broke our backs and now this rally gave us another scare. I hope the Diwali season brings a new light to our lives,” said Ram Prakash, a shopkeeper.
Security remained tight today but sources said the paramilitary forces will start leaving in a couple of days. Around 100 companies — 75 of the CRPF and RAF and 25 of the Provincial Armed Constabulary — had turned Faizabad district into a cantonment as the administration geared up for the worst in the wake of a VHP call for a rally. The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court had banned any public gathering near the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex.
Addressing the meeting, Singhal urged people to give three years of their lives to the Hindutva cause. He regretted that politicians had divided the country along caste lines and weakened the Hindu religion. “They ignore interests of Hindus and promote those of Muslims because of votebank politics,” he said.
The VHP president administered a pledge to the gathering “to strengthen the Hindu religion by abjuring casteism”.
BJP for Mulayam
The BJP today rejected the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s demand for dismissal of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government and imposition of President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh on the ground that there was no untoward incident during the Ayodhya agitation. The party also brushed aside the Congress’ call for a ban on the VHP.