Hand over land for temple construction: VHP

AYODHYA , JAN. 20. Giving an indication to raise fresh passions over the Ram temple issue, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders today urged the Union Government to hand over to them the 67-acre land under its possession to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple from March 12.

At a `Dharma Sabha' organised at Ram Katha Park on the banks of river Saryu on the eve of the `Chetawani Yatra' of the Hindu saints starting here tomorrow, the VHP leaders pleaded that it was in the power of the Government to hand over the land to the VHP and it should exercise its power to facilitate the temple construction.

The international president of the VHP, Ashok Singhal, said it was wrong to argue that there was any dispute pending before the Supreme Court regarding the 67 acres of land around the controversial Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. The dispute related to only a piece of land measuring 80 feet by 40 feet. The rest of the land was undisputed and the Government could legally hand over it to the VHP. Mr. Singhal, however, said this did not mean that the VHP was ready to enter into any compromise over the exact site of the temple. ``The Garbh Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple would be located only where the makeshift temple was existing today,'' he said.

Earlier at a press conference, Mr. Singhal condemned what he described as harassment of devotees of Lord Rama near the makeshift temple in the name of security arrangements. He urged the Government to withdraw the security measures to ensure unhindered worship.

He said the VHP leaders had contacted political leaders to seek their support in the construction of the temple. The `Dharma Sabha' was addressed by the former MPs, Mahant Avaidya Nath and Swami Chinmayanand, and the Bajrang Dal leader, Vinay Katiyar. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, vice-president of the Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yagna Samiti, presided. The leaders would meet the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, on January 27 to press for handing over the land for the construction.

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