Modi’s temple demolition irks VHP, Congress alike

November 20th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Gandhinagar, Nov 20 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government’s drive against temples encroaching streets in this Gujarat capital and elsewhere has invited the wrath of the opposition Congress and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) alike. The Congress has 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 Vishwa Hindu Parishad calls it an attack on Hindu culture and alleges that only the temples were being targetted and illegal structures of other communities were not being touched.

“It is worrisome that over 250 temples located on common plots of housing societies, which are no hindrance to anyone, are being demolished,” said Gujarat Congress president Siddharth Patel.

“Our objection is that the big fish are left untouched while small temples are targeted,” Patel told IANS Thursday. “Thousands of square metres of illegal land is with religious preacher Asaram Bapu on which he has built structures, but the government is oblivious to this.”

Gujarat VHP president Dilip Patel told IANS: “This is a vicious attack on Hindu culture and beliefs.”

“Hindu faith is dependent upon small and big temples. A poor man cannot go for pilgrimage for want of funds. His spiritual world revolves around the small temples that are close by,” he said.

Patel accused the Modi government of targeting only Hindu shrines. Some temples in Gandhinagar existed even before the city came into being and they do not disturb public convenience, he said.

Gandhinagar District Collector Sanjeev Kumar, meanwhile, told IANS that the drive against illegal religious structures had been going on for a month and encroachments in the form of shanty towns were also being removed.

He said the 250 demolished structures also included slum constructions.

Protests were reported from Surat city, some 300 km from here, when people of Palanpur Patia area complained of high-handed behaviour by a police inspector helping a team of the local municipal corporation in demolishing a temple.

The locals submitted a memorandum to Surat Police Commissioner R.M.S. Brar against the inspector, R.H. Hadiya. Brar told IANS that the inspector was trying to disperse the mob which pelted stones at the municipal corporation’s team.

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