The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Saturday dismissed a petition against the Uttar Pradesh government's ban on Vishwa Hindu Parisha's proposed Yatra from Ayodhya.
A division bench comprising Justice Laxmi Kant Mahapatra and Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhaya dismissed the public interest litigation filed by a local lawyer Mahesh Gupta. The PIL was filed on Friday, seeking a direction to the state government to allow the devotees to undertake the 84 kosi parikrama in Ayodhya from on Sunday.
"Since the petitioner has not pleaded any customary right to this parikrama regarding past several years it is dismissed," the court said.
On behalf of the state government, Additional Advocate General Bulbul Godiyal said, "Such type of parikrama was never organised in the past 50 years and as per Hindu belief it is performed in ‘Chaitra’ month of the Hindu calendar which has already passed away as it was in between April 25 to May 20".
The court observed, "There is nothing in the writ petition to show that the 84 kosi parikrama is a religious custom followed at the place mentioned and it was stated by the state counsel that such a parikrama has never been undertaken in the last 50 years."
The court further said, "In the absence of any material showing that the parikrama proposed to be undertaken is a part of religious custom, no such direction can be issued as no right occurs. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed".
Godiyal told the court that the proposed period of the yatra between August 25 to September 13 is not for the religious purposes but it may be for political reasons. She said that this parikrama could also pose a threat to maintaining status quo at the disputed site in Ayodhya as ordered by the Supreme Court.
On behalf of the petitioner, counsel Dinesh Chand said that according to Hindu belief the king of Ayodhya performed the yagna in the treta period at a place in Makhurha in Basti district of UP, and so the parikrama has to be started from there. He said that the parikrama of 84 kos is in remembrance of the Kaushal kingdom which consisted of this area spread over six districts and so the saints may be allowed to undertake it.
The district administration is expecting about 40,000-50,000 VHP activists to take part in the 84 kosi parikrama yatra. The Uttar Pradesh government has sought help from neighbouring states in intelligence sharing on the movement of activists of the saffron outfit.
"Neighbouring states have been asked for intelligence sharing in wake of the proposed 84 kosi yatra of the VHP on August 25," R K Vishwakarma, inspector general, law and order, had said.
Asked if the borders of the district would be sealed, Vishwakarma had said a decision would be taken depending on the situation but for now anyone can visit the city. "Only those going for the yatra will be stopped," he said, but did not elaborate how they would identify such people.
Vishwakarma said besides 13 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary and three companies of the Rapid Action Force, two superintendents of police, 19 additional SPs, 42 deputy SPs, 135 inspectors, 430 sub inspectors and 1,300 constables have been deployed in Faizabad.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had met legislators of Faizabad and adjoining districts on Friday and taken stock of the situation there. The legislators were asked by Yadav to keep an eye on the situation and apprise the party and him about the ongoing developments in the area.
Though there was no restriction on movement of people in Ayodhya, all vehicles leading to Faizabad are being checked to restrict movement of VHP leaders for the yatra. "Kya bataein...ye sab rajniti hai jisme hum garibon ko pareshani uthani padti hai. EK din bhi curfew lag jata hai to khana nahi naseeb hota" (All this is politics in which we poor have to suffer. If curfew is imposed for a day, we hardly get anything to eat), said Chhotu, who runs a roadside tea stall in Ayodhya.
Similar were the views of Rizwan Ali, who said there is no problem in the city, which is known for brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims. "The yatra and temple issues are being raked for political reasons...and the worst hit is the common man like us," he said.
Meanwhile, over 40 sadhus were taken into police custody when they were proceeding to Ayodhya from Jaipur, shortly after their bus crossed into Agra district at Chauma Shahpur village on the UP-Rajasthan border, police said on Saturday. Forty-six sadhus were taken into custody in the wee hours today at around 1.45 am, Additional District Magistrate of Kiraoli tehsil Radha Chauhan said.
The action comes in the wake off an information provided that sadhus would be crossing into Agra district from Rajasthan in order to proceed to Ayodhya for the Parikrama, Senior Superintendent of Police Shalabh Mathur said.
The sadhus were pushed around and misbehaved with by the policemen and hence they decided to protest and sit on a dharna, Harishankar Das Upraiti, one of the leaders of the group, alleged. Some sadhus claimed that about 20 of their colleagues had managed to give the slip to the police and would try to reach Ayodhya for the 80 kosi parikrama yatra. Meanwhile, Hindu organisations have criticised the arrest of the sadhus and expressed anger at the treatment meted out to them by policemen.