Police crack down on Hindu hardliners

Indian police have surrounded a camp of 2000 Hindu hardliners and arrested thousands more to block a rally demanding a Hindu temple be built over a razed mosque.

    The Babri mosque was razed by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992

    More than 70,000 Hindus are heading to the northern town of

    Ayodhya that has been a lightning rod for Hindu-Muslim tension

    since the Babri mosque was destroyed in 1992.

    The mosque's destruction sparked some of

    India's worst religious rioting, killing 3000 people.

    Some of the 3100 arrested so far have been released and

    sent back where they came from, but police have also besieged a

    camp on Ayodhya's outskirts.

    High alert

    "They can do whatever they like inside, but ... they will

    not be allowed to step out of the premises," district

    magistrate Deepak Kumar said.

    Police are on alert across northern India and troops are

    due in Ayodhya within the next two days to reinforce more than

    10,000 police already deployed.

    The last time Hindu hardliners called a rally in March last

    year, thousands made their way to Ayodhya, but many were

    stopped by police and the protest fizzled out peacefully.

    Deputy PM LK Advani is accused
    of inciting the Ayodhya riots

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a hardline ally of the

    ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has called the rally to push for

    a massive temple on what Hindus believe is the birthplace

    of the revered god-king Ram.

    Communal violence

    The rally has fuelled fears of fresh communal violence

    after more than 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were burned or

    hacked to death last year in the western Gujarat state

    .

    More than 20,000 Hindu activists have been piling into trains

    and buses out of Gujarat.

    Another 50,000 are expected from the western Maharashtra

    state, whose capital, Bombay, was the scene of some of the

    worst rioting after the destruction of the Babri mosque

    .

    Officials have temporarily barred the VHP's top three

    leaders from Ayodhya.

    The government has banned the rally in accordance with a

    court ruling outlawing any religious activity near the disputed

    site until the issue is settled.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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