VHP leader Ashok Singhal was on Monday released along with 957 fellow cadres, a day after nearly 2,500 activists were arrested in a massive crackdown by Uttar Pradesh authorities to foil its yatra, which also led to protests by its workers.
Another arrested VHP leader Pravin Togadia, however, remained in custody and was shifted by the district administration from Faizabad to Etah jail amid tight security.
“VHP leader Ashok Singhal has been released after finding no threat for peace from him...He has left for New Delhi”, Home Secretary Sarvesh told reporters in Lucknow.
He said of the total 2,454 arrested VHP workers, 958 have been released from different districts after an assessment was made in this regard by respective district magistrates.
Sarvesh said that Mr. Togadia, former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti and former MLA Lallu Singh had been shifted to Etah from Faizabad and have not been released till now
“They and other VHP workers will be released when there will be no threat for peace from them”, he said.
Asked about VHP’s protests in UP against the crackdown and the ban of the yatra, IG (Law and order)RK Vishwakarma said it was held in Kanpur, Auraiya, Lucknow, Barabanki, Ghazipur, Bulandshahr, Jhansi, Aligarh besides other districts and was peaceful with no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere.
About security arrangements, Mr. Vishwakarma said that borders of Ayodhya will remain sealed till further order.
VHP activists also clashed with police during a protest in New Delhi against the UP government’s decision to ban their Ayodhya yatra, prompting police to use water canons to disperse them.
The protestors pelted stones at police during the demonstration at Jantar Mantar and tried to break barricades.
Police had to resort to use of water canons and mild canon charge to disperse the protestors.
The protestors also burnt an effigy of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Phagware town in Punjab also witnessed protests by VHP activists.
The release of Singhal and others came shortly after the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court directed the state government to release him and Mr. Togadia besides other VHP leader Jagatguru Rambhadracharya in case they have been detained in violation of section 151 (2) of the CrPC.
A division bench comprising Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhaya passed this order on a hebeas corpus petition filed on behalf of these three through a local counsel Ranjana Agnihotri.
“In case the petitioners are detained in violation of section 151 (2) of the CrPC, they shall be released forthwith”, the court had directed.
Under this section, a person cannot be detained beyond 24 hours in case of apprehension of breach of peace unless he is not required in some other offence.