Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders Ashok Singhal and Pravin Togadia were on Friday released along with 957 fellow cadres, a day after nearly 2,500 activists were arrested in a massive crackdown by Uttar Pradesh authorities to foil its yatra which also led to protests by its workers.
Togadia, who was shifted by the district administration from Faizabad to Etah jail amid tight security, was released on Friday night, state Home Department sources said, hours after Singhal was set free.
The sources said besides Togadia, former BJP MP Ramvilas Vedanti and ex-BJP MLA Lallu Singh were also freed from Etah on personal bonds and assurance of good behaviour.
"VHP leader Ashok Singhal has been released after finding no threat for peace from him...He has left for New Delhi", Secretary Home Sarvesh told reporters earlier in the day in Lucknow.
He said of the total 2,454 arrested VHP workers, 958 have been released from different districts after an assessment was made in this regard by respective district magistrates.
Sarvesh had earlier said that Togadia and others will be released when there will be no threat for peace from them.
Asked about VHP's protests in UP against the crackdown and the ban of the yatra, IG (Law and order) RK Vishwakarma said it was held in Kanpur, Auraiya, Lucknow, Barabanki, Ghazipur, Bulandshahr, Jhansi, Aligarh besides other districts and was peaceful with no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere.
About security arrangements, Vishwakarma said that borders of Ayodhya will remain sealed till further order.
VHP activists also clashed with police during a protest in New Delhi against the UP government's decision to ban their Ayodhya yatra, prompting police to use water cannons to disperse them.
The protestors pelted stones at police during the demonstration at Jantar Mantar and tried to break barricades.
Police had to resort to use of water cannons and mild canon charge to disperse the protestors.
The protestors also burnt an effigy of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Phagware town in Punjab also witnessed protests by VHP activists.
The release of Singhal and others came shortly after the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court directed the state government to release him and Togadia besides other VHP leader Jagatguru Rambhadracharya in case they have been detained in violation of section 151 (2) of the CrPC.
Under this section, a person cannot be detained beyond 24 hours in case of apprehension of breach of peace unless he is not required in some other offence.