High security in UP over banned ritual
Lucknow: After the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) refused to shelve its plans to perform an "84 kosi parikrama" or 84-km procession in Ayodhya, the Uttar Pradesh government Wednesday heightened security there and sealed boundaries in six adjoining districts, officials said. The proposed 84-km yatra, to be undertaken by ascetics under the banner of the VHP, had earlier been banned by the state government. Officials of the home department said that under no circumstance would the yatra be allowed. "Other than deputing extra security forces in the region, barricading the routes is also an option we are exploring," a senior official told IANS.
The government has also decided to deploy ten companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and 12 companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in the area. Inspector General of Police (Law and Orer) Raj Kumar Vishwakarma told IANS that orders have also been issued to prevent pilgrims and ascetics from other states from coming to Ayodhya. Ascetics descending on the state to participate in the 84 kosi parikrama would be stopped at airports, railway and bus stations, officials said.
An elaborate security plan is also being chalked out by the DGP headquarters in Lucknow for the yatra, set to begin Aug 25. The ascetics, however, upped the ante and said that there was no question of going back on the proposed yatra. Slamming the state government for the clampdown on Hindu religious people, Swamy Chinmayanand accused Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of working under pressure from his party's Muslim leaders.
He came down especially hard on the state's Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, accusing him of "arm-twisting the Samajwadi Party leadership into banning the 84 kosi parikrama." Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department Minister Shivpal Yadav refuted these charges, and said the state government was committed to the maintenance of communal harmony.