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Police arrest Ashok Singhal
October 17, 2003 11:26 IST
Last Updated: October 17, 2003 13:07 IST
The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday arrested Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal from Ayodhya.
Singhal was arrested from Karsevakpuram, the VHP's central office, when he came out to attend the outfit's programme.
Thousands of VHP cadres are in the temple town to participate in a 'Sankalp Sabha' as part of Ram temple construction campaign.
There were also unconfirmed reports of police firing shots in the air.
The VHP cadres also reportedly wielded sticks when the police tried to arrest them.
Singhal has called for a bandh across the country on October 19 in protest of the alleged police atrocities on karsevaks. He also demanded immediate withdrawal of security forces from Ayodhya.
The VHP leader alleged that Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was using security forces to persecute and beat up karsevaks.
Singhal, meanwhile, refused to leave Karsevakpuram unless all karsevaks were allowed to have darshan of Ram Lalla at the disputed site.
"The state administration had earlier promised that karsevaks would be allowed to have darshan, but now they have backtracked and were resorting to repressive measures to evict karsevaks," he told PTI in Ayodhya.
Accusing Zonal Inspector General V N Rai of adopting 'high-handed tactics', the VHP leader said, "I am an 80-year-old man. The administration wants me to die. They can only remove my body from this place and not me."
Meanwhile, Rai said, "We have offered to shift him (Singhal) to a Dak bungalow in Faizabad as we do not want to use force since he is an old man."
Singhal called upon the Sunni Central Waqf board to withdraw its petition from the Allahabad high court claiming ownership of the disputed site.
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