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Hindu organisations protest arrest
November 13, 2004 17:08 IST
Last Updated: November 13, 2004 21:26 IST
Various Hindu organisations in different parts of the country on Saturday protested against the arrest of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Jayendra Saraswathi.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad staged a demonstration in New Delhi, in which its leaders vowed to "avenge" the arrest. They also sought the intervention of President A P J Abdul Kalam to secure the pontiff's release.
VHP's working president Ashok Singhal alleged that the arrest was "as grave an attack on [the] Hindu community as the destruction of [the] Somnath temple centuries ago". He called for a "fast" on Sunday in the country, as the seer had reportedly not eaten anything since his arrest.
"[The] Shankaracharya, who is the greatest spiritual figure in the world, can't be tried like an ordinary criminal. A committee should be formed to look into the merits of the case before his trial proceeds," he said.
Singhal also demanded that an Act be brought in to provide some sort of immunity to pontiffs, so that such an incident does not happen again.
Referring to the United Progressive Alliance government, which is backed by the Communists and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, he said, "We have a government of non-believers in this country."
This "attack on Hinduism" will be avenged, he said.
Questioning the need to arrest Shankaracharya as "he would not have absconded," VHP international president Vishnu Hari Dalmiya lashed out at the central government terming it as a "red, Communist government, which did not know how to respect the saints."
Interestingly, both Singhal and Dalmiya spared the Jayalalithaa-led Tamil Nadu government, whose police arrested the Shankaracharya.
In Mahaboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh, where the seer was arrested on Friday, about 200 Bharatiya Janata Party and VHP workers staged a sit-in dharna at the district collectorate.
The activists gathered near the Ambedkar square and squatted on the road, demanding the immediate release of the Shankaracharya.
Condemning the Tamil Nadu police's action, a spokesman of the Kamakoti Peetham expressed resentment at the manner in which the seer was reportedly woken up from sleep and whisked away.
In Pune, Hindu Janjagriti Samiti activists, mostly women, took out a rally, carrying placards denouncing the arrest. They marched through the streets of the city's main thoroughfares.
Meanwhile, Kalyani Pandit, president, Durga Vahini, western Maharashtra region, speaking to PTI, said the arrest smacked of a deep-rooted conspiracy to humiliate the Hindus.
In Kochi in Kerala, various Hindu organisations have been observing a fast to protest against the arrest. Demonstrations and public meetings will be held later in the day as part of the protest.
In Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, some activists of a literary association were arrested for burning an effigy of the Shankaracharya.
The activists, belonging to the People's Art and Literary Association, raised slogans, demanding that all the property belonging to the Kancheepuram Mutt be taken over.
More reports from Kerala