Even as life limped back to normalcy at B-Block in Jangpura, Pushp Vihar in South Delhi witnessed agitation and traffic jams on Saturday, following the demolition of a temple.
The Pushp Vihar temple was demolished by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) on Wednesday morning. Hindu organisations came out on the streets and blocked the BRT Corridor for nearly two hours on Saturday, causing massive traffic jam in entire South Delhi. Commuters have been the worst sufferer of the protests that caused long traffic snarls.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Saturday registered a case with the Southeast Delhi Police, alleging that the land on which the Masjid was encroached. “The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) made a formal complaint that their land was being encroached upon. On the basis of that complaint we registered a case under appropriate charges. The situation in Jangpura was, however, under control but we had deployed adequate number of personnel in the area,” said OP Mishra, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast)
Tempers and tension both rose in the area after people were not allowed to enter the premises. For more than 50 hours, heavy police personnel was deployed at the area. In the past two days the area witnessed incidents of stone pelting, teargas shelling and lathicharge in which 20 people were injured, including six-policemen.
However, the government decided to allow people to offer prayers at the site after Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit met Union home minister P Chidambaram and Union urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy.
Demanding restoration of the temple and strict action against “errant” officials, hundreds of activists from VHP, RSS, BJP and other organisations staged a dharna near Sheikh Sarai on BRT corridor.
The agitating activists alleged that the demolished structure was not illegal, as claimed by the CPWD, the agency that razed down the temple almost at the same time when the mosque in Jangpura was demolished. They claimed that the Shiv Shakti Jagannath Mandir Temple, that was built 30 years back, was brought down around 11 am on the same fateful day. They gave an ultimatum of seven days to the government to rebuild the temple, failing which they would intensify their protests.
The authorities claimed the structure was demolished on getting approval from religious committee of the Delhi government. A claim backed by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. They said the temple was built illegally on its land and the demolition order was issued almost a year ago. But locals alleged that the officials had demanded bribe to prevent the demolition, which was turned down by the people. “After the residents refused to bribe, they demolished the structure. Even the idols were damaged,” locals alleged.
Commuters in South Delhi had a harrowing experience on Saturday. Not just the 5.8-km-long BRT corridor, there were long queue of vehicles on several arterial roads. The worst hit from the agitation were the Chirag Dilli, Pushpa Vihar, Siri Fort and Sheikh Sarai intersections. Motorists complained that it took more than an hour to cross these intersections.