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Release `Ram bhakts', Venkaiah urges Mulayam

By Neena Vyas

Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Securitymen deployed in a street leading to Hanuman-garhi temple in Ayodhya on Thursday on the eve of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's proposed `Ram Bhakt Sammelan.'

NEW DELHI OCT. 16. The Bharatiya Janata Party president, Venkaiah Naidu, today appealed to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, to allow `Ram bhakts' to proceed to Ayodhya peacefully to participate in the programme organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

He said the State Government should release all those it had arrested or detained over the last few days.

Even as reports from Lucknow said that Mr. Yadav had agreed to allow the VHP programme to be held ``five kilometres away'' from the disputed site in Ayodhya tomorrow, the VHP has announced that its volunteers will stop buses and trains throughout the State to lodge its protest against diversion of trains and the arrests of `Ram bhakts'.

On Wednesday, Mr. Advani had appealed to Mr. Yadav not to adopt a confrontationist attitude. He had also indicated that trains to places around Ayodhya would not be stopped or diverted as had been done earlier. But there were conflicting reports about the movement of trains and buses. While the Centre maintained that trains were no longer being stopped, VHP leaders said they were.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader and VHP joint general secretary, Onkar Bhave, said in a statement that between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow `Ram bhakts' would stop buses and trains to protest against the Government action. He warned that the Government was ``pushing a peaceful agitation'' towards an opposite path, and ``if any untoward incident were to take place, the full responsibility would be that of the Government.''

In a statement, the VHP leader, Ashok Singhal, today said the Uttar Pradesh Government should limit its action to merely ensuring that the directives of the Allahabad High Court on the disputed site were not flouted.

VHP leader, Surendra Jain, told a press conference here today that the Centre was not trying to remove the hurdles being put in the way of its volunteers reaching Ayodhya.

He described the Vajpayee Government as ``anti-Hindu''. If any Minister in the Government, including the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, wanted to prove his ``pro-Hindu'' credentials, he should come out of the Government, he said. He blamed the Centre for diversion of trains bound for places close to Ayodhya.

Mr. Naidu also appealed to the VHP to maintain peace at all costs, adding that the organisation should ``coordinate'' with the State Government as it had full responsibility for maintaining peace.

He dismissed the suggestion that the BJP had arrived at some ``understanding'' with the Samajwadi Party. In a democracy a working relationship had to be established between the party ruling at the Centre and those in the States, he said.

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