Modi orders stop to temple demolition drive in GujaratNovember 21st, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS
Ahmedabad, Nov 21 (IANS) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Friday decided to stop further demolition of illegally constructed temples in the state after his meeting with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Ashok Singhal, an official here said. Modi ordered an end to the drive after Singhal met him at his residence and conveyed in no uncertain terms his concern about the demolition of over 250 temples in capital Gandhinagar and elsewhere, and the arrest of local leader Ashwin Patel on sedition charges.
“The Modi government has completely stopped the demolition after Singhal’s meeting,” VHP media coordinator Jayesh Shah told IANS.
“Singhal had criticised the Modi government on Thursday, saying that it was reprehensible that he should repeat the action of Mohammad Ghazni who had destroyed a number of temples in Gujarat. Singhalji has left for Delhi,” Shah said.
“This is a Hindu victory. We are celebrating today (Friday) evening at Pathikashram circle,” said Mahagujarat Janata Party (MJP) general secretary Sunil Oza.
“Modi had to bow before the anger of the people and retreat. He had done enough damage by destroying over 200 temples,” Oza said.
The Narendra Modi government’s drive against temples encroaching streets in this Gujarat capital and elsewhere in the state drew the wrath of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the opposition Congress alike.
The Congress expressed its surprise that small temples located on common plots of housing societies were being targetted in the name of development while the government glossed over encroachments by big temples and religious preachers.
The VHP called it an attack on Hindu culture and alleged that only the temples were being targetted and illegal structures of other communities were not being touched.
Gandhinagar District Collector Sanjeev Kumar said the drive against illegal religious structures was going on for a month and encroachments in the form of shanty towns were also being removed.