The twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad were on the edge today as tension escalated on the eve of VHP's yatra with the UP government cracking down on the saffron outfit arresting some of its leaders and over 200 activists.
Security was beefed up as a defiant VHP declared that it will go ahead with the yatra which has been banned by the ruling Samajwadi Party government fearing a communal flare-up.
Mahant Santosh Das alias Sathu Baba, a VHP office bearer in Varanasi was taken into preventive custody while prominent VHP leader Mahant Ram Saran Das was held at Ram Sanehi Ghat in Ayodhya.
Preventive arrests have been made in Jaunpur(7), Agra(46), Kanpur city(63), Banda(1), Fatehpur(17), Basti(8) and Faizabad(62), home department spokesman said in Lucknow.
Ashok Singhal, Pravin Togadia and Ram Vilas Vedanti were among the leaders against whom the warrants were issued, Faizabad district magistrate Vipin Kumar Dwivedi said.
A team led by the Faizabad DM and SSP also carried out searches at VHP's local headquarter Karsewak Puram, Mani Ram Chawni, the temple of VHP leader and president of Ram Janam Bhumi Trust, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and about half a dozen suspected hideouts of VHP's activists in and around Ayodhya.
The district administration, which had earlier issued arrest orders against 70 prominent VHP leaders, has now issued warrants against 300 more activists.
"We are conducting preventive arrests of prominent VHP leaders who may create law and order problems in the name of banned 84-Kosi Parikrama yatra," Dwivedi said.
"First we had issued arrest orders for 70 VHP activists and now 300 more have came on our target. Those arrested will be detained at temporary jails, and will be booked under section 144 of CrPC," he said.
Faizabad SSP K B Singh said sadhus would be respectfully stopped from going towards Ayodhya.
The VHP has proposed to take out Chaurasi Kosi parikrama yatra between August 25 to September 13 to push for Ram temple at the disputed site. Samajwadi Party government has denied permission for the yatra.
The yatra will go through six districts, including Faizabad, Basti, Barabanki, Gonda, Bahraich and Ambedkar Nagar.
The district administration, which has decided to deploy