VHP yatra: VHP leaders discuss future course of action

After High Court`s refusal to vacate ban on the VHP`s proposed yatra, the saffron outfit went into a huddle to deliberate on future course of action.

Lucknow: After High Court`s refusal to vacate ban on the VHP`s proposed yatra, the saffron outfit on Saturday went into a huddle to deliberate on future course of action, while its leader Pravin Togadia asked the UP government to allow the religious march, saying it was not a political activity.

The VHP said only about 200 sadhus will converge and it is "not a large congregation" so the state government should not panic.

Only 150 to 200 sadhus will walk at yatra points daily, and there is absolutely no reason for the state government to panic because it is a peaceful religious `yatra` by a limited number of sadhus and saints, said Togadia, VHP`s International Working President.

"The news of the High Court dismissing the petition against ban on the yatra has been conveyed to the saints and mahants (head priests) and they have started deliberations on the future course of action... By the evening some decision would be taken...As of now there is no change in the VHP plan," VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma told PTI over phone.

"As of now, the yatra would start from the banks of Saryu river after puja on August 25 (tomorrow)," Sharma said.

The spokesman said VHP has not "planned any kind of large congregation" in Ayodhya. Only 200 to 250 saints would converge and the aim of the yatra was to pass through the traditional route of 84-kosi (around 252 kms) and create awareness on the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Sharma clarified that the proposed `Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama` is actually a padayatra, but since the saints term it as "parikrama" it is being viewed as a traditional parikrama.

On the claims of the state government in the court that the traditional period for staging `Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama` has passed in April-May, he said that "in 1998, it was held in November but no one had said anything then".

Earlier today, the Allahabad High Court dismissed the petition filed against UP government`s ban on the proposed yatra.

Togadia expressed surprise and "shock" over the ban on the proposed yatra and the massive deployment of security forces in the region.

"We appeal to the UP government to respect religious
sentiments of saints and allow them to carry on the religious yatra as scheduled, rather than using high-handed tactics like arresting sadhus and VHP leaders and activists," Togadia said in a statement.

"There are some simple and important aspects of `Chaurasi Kosi Ayodhya Parikrama` by saints and it is surprising and disgusting that UP government has imposed Section 144 (of the CrPC), and has arrested over 100 saints and VHP workers," Togadia said.

It is a simple `padyatra` as per the traditional parikrama route and not "an agitation or any type of political activity" as is being projected by the government and a section of media, he said.

The yatra will take place from August 25 to September 13.


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