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Communal harmony meet: Activists barred from addressing media in Ayodhya

By Our Representative
The Uttar Pradesh government has barred Magsaysay award winning social activist Sandeep Pandey and others to hold press conference at the Ram Janki temple in Saryu Kunj, Vasishtha Kund, Ayodhya.
Pandey, along with seven other activists -- Acharya Yugal Kishor Shashtri, Faisal Khan, Javed Malik, Naresh Singh, Sunder Kaur, Shah Alam, Suresh Bhai and Salman Raini -- were packed in three police jeeps and dropped outside the district boundary of Ayodhya (earlier knows as Faizabad) on Monday.
In a statement, Pandey and others said, they were let go at Ram Snehi Ghat, midway between Lucknow and Ayodhya, so that we could not talk to media in Ayodhya, and people who had come from outside would have to return to Lucknow. 
The press conference was meant to protest against the administration refusing permission for a communal harmony meet in Ayodhya on August 17-18, which was to be addressed by Prof Ram Puniyani.
The statement said, "This is not just a curb on our freedom of expression it is also an attack on freedom of press because a press conference has been illegally prevented from being held without any written order."
It added, "The arrogance of the police and government can be gauged from the fact that when Shashtri ji's neice objected to a policeman walking with his shoes inside the temple, the police retorted that if they can go inside Golden temple in Amritsar with boots on why can't they enter a temple here."
Earlier, the police prevented the entry of Prof Ram Puniyani, Sandeep Pandey, Rajeev Yadav, Hafeez Kidwai, Ajay Patel, Eram, Ashish Yadav, Anurag Shukla, Ghanshyam, Salman Raini and Abhyudaya Pratap Singh on August 17 by detaining them at Raunahi, on way from Lucknow to Ayodhya to participate in the two days event.
Mahant of Ram Janki temple Acharya Yugal Kishor Sharan Shashtri was detained and brought to Raunahi. Other participants were threatened to leave the venue. The police jeeps from Ayodhya followed the team which went from Lucknow to Runahi and then came to ensure that they returned to Lucknow.

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