VHP yatra: Ashok Singhal released, says struggle to build Ram temple will continue

Talking exclusively to Zee News, Singhal said that VHP will continue its struggle till the Ram temple is not built.

Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh

Lucknow: On his release after being arrested yesterday by the Uttar Pradesh government in their attempt to halt the Ayodhya yatra in its tracks, VHP president Ashok Singhal challenged Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday to stop them if they could.

Talking exclusively to Zee News, Singhal said that VHP will continue its struggle till the Ram temple is not built. After being detained at the airport, Singhal had requested the state government to review the ban and had asked as to what `crime` he had done.

Earlier today, the Allahabad High Court directed the Akhilesh government to release the arrested VHP leaders Singhal, Togadia and Jagatguru Rambhadracharya, if they had been detained beyond 24 hours. A division bench also asked the state government to file a reply by tomorrow on their detention.

A habeas corpus petition was filed in the Lucknow Bench of the high court by counsel Ranjana Agnihotri, in which it sought direction to the state government to release the arrested VHP leaders. The bench said that if the petitioners had been detained in violation of section 151 (2) of the CrPC, them they should be released. As per the law, under this section, a person cannot be detained beyond 24 hours in case of apprehension of breach of peace. The detention can only be prolonged if it is required in some other offence.

Hours after Singhal was released, Togadia, who was shifted by the district administration from Faizabad to Etah jail, was also released, as per sources. Besides Togadia, former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti and ex-BJP MLA Lallu Singh were also freed from Etah on personal bonds.

VHP inaugurated its `Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama Yatra` yesterday defying the ban imposed by the UP government. Nritya Gopal Das of Ram Janambhoomi inaugurated the yatra by walking ten steps outside his temple. However, the plan was foiled after the state government arrested hundreds of VHP activists, including its international president Pravin Togadia and Nritya Gopal Das. Samajwadi Party leaders rubbed salt on their wounds by saying that the yatra was a `flop show`.

Togadia was arrested from Ayodhya, whereas Singhal was taken into custody at Lucknow airport after he arrived from New Delhi. Togadia had been hiding in Kale Ram temple on the banks of Saryu river. Former union minister Swami Chinmayanand, Vedanti and sitting MLA Ram Chandra Yadav were others who were held.

Ahkilesh Yadav government refused permission to the VHP to go ahead with the proposed yatra, citing flaring up of communal tensions as the prime reason. The UP government has been heavily criticised by the main Opposition, the BJP for the move, who said that it was an attack on the rights of Hindus. It also said that the Samajwadi Party had taken the step after being pressurised by Muslim ministers and moulvis to do so. The party also dismissed the argument put forward by SP leaders that the yatra went against the stay order of the apex court on the Allahabad High Court decision trifurcating the disputed Ram Janambhoomi- Babri Masjid land.

The yatra has been dubbed political by parties such as the Congress and the JD(U), who have termed it as an attempt to polarise votes in the state. The issue also rocked both the houses of Parliament today with members of BJP and SP clashing with each other over VHP`s yatra.

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