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Arrests continue in U.P., VHP defiant

Ayodhya Oct. 13. The Uttar Pradesh Government today rounded up over 1,100 Ayodhya-bound Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists across the State even as it fortified the temple town deploying 100 companies of paramilitary forces ahead of the proposed VHP rally on October 17.

About 450 people were picked up from trains at the Ayodhya and Faizabad railway stations, 400 in Varanasi and 350 in Allahabad as the authorities hinted at taking the Army's help if the situation so warranted. About 4,000 karsevaks have so far been detained in the State.

The Additional DGP (Law and Order), Bua Singh, told reporters that 100 companies of paramilitary troops were deployed in Ayodhya and neighbouring areas to ensure law and order. Mr. Singh reviewed the situation in a meeting with top PAC, CRPF, ITBP and BSF officials.

In Lucknow, the Chief Secretary, A.P. Singh, said the temple town was peaceful and that all necessary steps were being taken to deal with any eventuality. The status quo would be maintained at the disputed site as per the directives of the High Court, he said and denied the VHP's allegations that karsevaks were being ill-treated.

The Additional DGP, IGP (Lucknow), V.N. Rai, and other senior police officials went round sensitive places in the city as prohibitory orders were promulgated in Basti, Jaunpura and Sant Kabirnagar districts adjoining Faizabad. Mr. Rai said buses and heavy vehicles would not be allowed to enter Faizabad without the permission of the district authorities. However, the district administration's representations to the Centre and the Railway authorities for a complete ban on the rail traffic here failed, and only the Sabarmati Express and the Doon Express had been rerouted.

In Allahabad, police intensified searches of trains and buses passing through the town and arrested 324 VHP activists. Over 100 activists were arrested last night at the Allahabad Railway station, the SP (City), Ajay Mohan Sharma, said.

In New Delhi, the Union Minister of State for Home, Swami Chinmayanand, told reporters that the Centre would extend all possible help to the State Government in tackling the situation.The State had demanded 100 companies of paramilitary forces and "we have given 105", he said.

Even as the authorities diverted trains and stopped buses to prevent karsevaks from heading towards Ayodhya, the VHP organising secretary, Rahgavulu, told reporters in Allahabad that his organisation was determined to hold the proposed meeting even if the entire State was converted into a jail. Over one lakh people had already arrived in Ayodhya and its vicinity, he added. Mr. Raghavulu appealed to political parties to work for enacting legislation for handing over of the undisputed land at Ayodhya to Hindus for construction of a Ram temple. Other VHP sources said the organisation's proposed demonstration in Lucknow and in Delhi on October 15 and 16 would be a low-key affair and that senior VHP leaders were likely to sneak into Ayodhya secretly and would surface on the D-day.

Separately, BJP sources said several "Ram Bhakts" would try to enter Ayodhya in small groups and breach the security cordon to hold a symbolic programme on Friday.

Sena challenges VHP

In Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh Shiv Sena chief, Vijay Tiwari, challenged the VHP to start the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya immediately and said that if the VHP felt "incompetent", it should withdraw from the temple movement and let the Sena spearhead the cause. The Sena would get the temple constructed within a year, he claimed. — PTI, UNI

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