Indian police Friday arrested more than 3,000 Hindu devotees threatening to march to a shrine in the northern town of Ayodhya built on the site of a mosque destroyed by Hindu militants earlier this month.
The destruction of the mosque Dec. 6 and the building of a makeshift temple there triggered an orgy of Hindu-Muslim rioting in which more than 1,100 people were killed across India.
Authorities in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state where Ayodhya is located, said 234 people were arrested near the site of the temple and 2,855 in the nearby town of Faizabad.
Paramilitary police have guarded the site since ejecting the Hindu militants Dec. 8. Entry is banned.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said the marches were part of continuing pressure on the government to allow public worship there. The BJP supported the campaign to replace the Ayodhya mosque with a temple but disclaims responsibility for the storming of the shrine.
In New Delhi, Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao told his Congress Party to be prepared for some electoral losses because of the tide of resurgent Hindu nationalism spearheaded by the BJP.