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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Ayodhya temple security stepped up
Stone mason chiselling
Stonework for the temple Hindus want on the site
The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said security will be tightened around the holy site in the northern town of Ayodhya disputed by Hindus and Muslims.

Mr Vajpayee was speaking a day after some leaders of the hardline Hindu organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), forced their way into a makeshift temple in a restricted area on the site.

"It appears that the security arrangement was slack. It has to be further tightened," Mr Vajpayee told the Press Trust of India.

The VHP leaders, including party President Ashok Singhal, and the party's International General Secretary, Praveen Togadia, broke through the paramilitary security cordon and entered the makeshift temple to offer prayers.

Officials said the two were persuaded to leave the complex soon after.

Election support

Under the terms of a Supreme Court ruling, no-one except for priests and security personnel are allowed inside the restricted area.

Ayodhya mosque
Hindus razed the mosque, believing it to be standing on the birthplace of Ram
Analysts say the VHP action seemed to be aimed at gaining support ahead of state elections in Uttar Pradesh due early next year.

Hindu extremists destroyed the 16th-century Babri mosque at the site in 1992, triggering sectarian violence in which more than 2,000 people died.

Some Hindu groups say the disputed site is the birthplace of the god-king Ram and want to construct a temple on the site.

Muslims have rejected the claim and demanded a mosque be built there.

See also:

12 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindu ire over luxury resort
09 Jan 01 | South Asia
Millions join holy dip
19 Dec 00 | South Asia
Vajpayee loses Ayodhya vote
16 Nov 00 | South Asia
India's Ayodhya cauldron bubbles
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