Violence erupts in Indian temple town
Simmering tensions erupted into violence yesterday in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya. Police reacted to prevent Hindu activists from staging a mass rally on the ruins of a razed mosque at a disputed holy site. They fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a mob of Hindu extremists attempting to break a security cordon, an AFP correspondent witnessed. Activists of the right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, or World Hindu Council) had been gathering here in defiance of a ban, to participate in a rally on the disputed ruins of the destroyed 16th century Babri mosque. Trouble began soon after a trainload of about 1,000 activists arrived in Ayodhya yesterday morning.
bussing in the protestors, huh?
They were taken by police to the Karsewakpuram, an open complex used for meetings, for an âorganised arrestâ.
1000? - mustâve been like herding cats
However, as police began making arrests, the activists attacked them with iron rods and stones. The activists then locked themselves behind the iron gates of the complex and climbed on the roof of a building from where they began throwing stones at the police. The trouble subsided after about an hour with the arrest of top VHP Hindu leader Ashok Singhal and several of his followers.
âFive rounds of rubber bullets were fired in the air,â said Inspector-General of Police V.K. Rai, who was slightly injured in the stone-pelting. There were no immediate details of other casualties. After the arrests, the activists were taken away in buses to various jails and the Karsewakpuram complex was vacated.
About 1.5km away from the site of the ruins, a group of about 20 Hindu militants burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. They shouted slogans demanding that the Prime Minister hand over the site of the destroyed mosque to them so a temple can be built. Ayodhya was flooded with about 10,000 security personnel who were on duty to prevent the rally, which was banned by a court order. Hindus claim the mosque was built by a Muslim king after demolishing a temple to their god Ram. They have, for decades, been demanding the site be given to them for temple âreconstructionâ.
The 1992 demolition sparked nationwide riots in which about 2,000 people were killed. After the demolition, the Hindus erected a makeshift temple before a court ordered that the status quo be maintained - essentially preventing both Hindus and Muslims from taking over the site. Since the court order, Hindus have been allowed to visit the temple only in small groups, while no public meeting or slogan-shouting is allowed anywhere near the site as its future is being decided by the courts. âIn no way will we allow them to hold the meeting,â district magistrate J.P. Sharma told AFP. âThey will also not be allowed to (shout slogans). If they do, we will arrest them.â In the past few days, police in Uttar Pradesh have arrested about 20,000 Hindu activists to prevent them from reaching Ayodhya to attend the rally. In response to the restriction and the security clampdown on its activists, the VHP has called on its supporters to block roads and railway tracks across Uttar Pradesh state, where Ayodhya is located. -- AFP
Not all loonies are Pakis
Posted by: Frank G 2003-10-18