VHP threatens force against Sethusamudram project


New Delhi : The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Sunday threatened to "use force" to protect the mythological Ram Setu and stop the controversial Sethusamudram canal project off the Tamil Nadu coast.

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"We can even think of all options, including the use of force, to stop the destruction of the Ram Setu, which is a symbol of our culture and faith," VHP president Ashok Singhal told a rally at the Ramlila grounds here.

He said various Hindu outfits would intensify their national agitation to protect the Ram Setu if the central government failed to scrap the project.

The heads of Hindu outfits will decide on the future course of action on the issue at a Dharma Sansad, or religious meeting, to be held here July 22.

The Sethusamudram project, cleared by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in May 2005, is part of an ambitious Rs.24.27 billion plan to create a channel for large ships between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay.

Hindu rightwing organisations have been protesting the canal project, saying it would hurt Hindu sentiments as it would damage the ancient bridge built by Lord Ram to link India and Sri Lanka as described in the epic Ramayana.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi claimed his party had support of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and Trinamool Congress on the issue.

"We will not allow anybody to destroy it at any cost," he said.

VHP international secretary Praveen Togadia said the decision to "destroy the Ram Setu is intended to hurt the Hindu sentiments".