A day after the crackdown on VHP activists to prevent them from beginning the 84 Kosi yatra, the UP government sounded a fresh alert in view of the Krishna Janmashtami festival.
Regarding the security measures taken by the state government, RK Vishwakarma, the Additional Director General (ADG) of Police (Law and Order), said, “The district officials of Mathura – where the festival is celebrated on a large scale and there is a huge turnout of devotees in the city and adjoining areas like Vrindavan and Gokul – have been specifically asked to be on high alert.”
On Ayodhya, he said, “There will be no let-up in the security cover in place for the 84 Kosi parikrama, but the situation in Faizabad is normal. In Ayodhya too, life is fast returning to normal. As per the VHP announcement, the parikrama was to be taken out from Makhaura, 20 km from Ayodhya, today (25 August), but nobody turned up there. There was no report of any untoward incident from any part of the state. Around 2,400 VHP leaders and saints were arrested till today, of which 1496 were sent to jail. The remaining 998 have been released. A total of 184 VHP activists were arrested during demonstrations held at Etah, Kasganj, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bulandshahr and other places.”
The Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Faizabad, BD Polson said, “Until the VHP officially calls off the parikrama, we won’t lower security in Faizabad and other districts. Patrolling, barricades and security arrangement in the town will be there till the end of the parikrama on 13 September.”
Though shops and business establishments opened in Ayodhya, the temple town remained deserted as pilgrims shunned the town in the wake of uncertainty over the law and order situation. Few people were seen on the banks of river Saryu in Ayodhya as police allowed bathing only in one out of a dozen ghats.
Meanwhile the VHP leader Ashok Singhal was released after a day-long detention in the state capital on the order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. He was arrested in Lucknow on 25 August after he landed at the Amausi airport on his way to Ayodhya to participate in the 84 Kosi parikrama. He was taken to a guest house at Nawabganj bird sanctuary in Unnao, 50 km from Lucknow. He was brought back to Lucknow on 26 August and lodged at the guest house of Ambedkar University. After a habeas corpus petition was filed, the High Court ordered the release of the VHP leaders, including Ashok Singal, who were arrested under section 151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Singhal lost his cool when it was pointed out to him that the VHP’s parikrama was ‘a fixed match between the Sangh Parivar and the Samajwadi Party’: “Its all rubbish. Am I here to play cricket? Have you ever seen me playing this game or is the Chairman of the Ramjanma Bhoomi Trust Mahant Nritya Gopal Das a cricket player? Has anybody seen him playing cricket?”
“Sants are not the servants of any political party, nor are they associated with any party. They are only agitating to restore the ancient glory of the nation by building a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya-dham. They won’t be deterred by the state terror unleashed by the UP government. The VHP will continue its agitation against the insult and humiliation heaped on the religious leaders of the Hindu community, who were not only arrested but also denied from exercising their fundamental right to perform religious rites,” he said.
The VHP leader further accused Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of deliberately attempting to vitiate peace in the state by ordering the crackdown on Hindu religious leaders participating in the 84 Kosi yatra.