|Wednesday, 15 October 2003|
Indian police surround camp to block Ayodhya rally
LUCKNOW, India, Tuesday (Reuters) Indian police have surrounded a camp of 2,000 Hindu hardliners and arrested thousands more in a bid to block a potentially explosive rally on Friday to demand a Hindu temple be built over a razed mosque.
Over 70,000 activists 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, sparking some of India's worst religious rioting that killed 3,000 people. Some of the 3,100 arrested so far have been released and sent back where they came from, but police have also besieged a camp on Ayodhya's outskirts with about 2,000 activists inside.
"They can do whatever they like inside, but ... they will not be allowed to step out of the premises," district magistrate Deepak Kumar told Reuters.
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.
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