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Bajrang Dal, VHP men enter Taj wearing saffron

The protesters reached the barricading of the eastern gate and returned only after the ASI chief received their memorandum.

india Updated: May 09, 2017 13:13 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Bajrang Dal activists protesting against the ASI officials in Agra on Saturday.
Bajrang Dal activists protesting against the ASI officials in Agra on Saturday.(HT Photo)

Right wing outfits, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, staged a protest at the Taj Mahal and later some of them entered the monument wearing saffron on Saturday. The activists were angry at supermodels visiting the Taj being told to deposit their saffron stoles at the monument’s gate on Wednesday.

The protesters reached the barricading of the eastern gate and returned only after the ASI chief received their memorandum.

City unit president of membership cell of BJP Yuva Morcha Sunil Sharma, who had given call for this protest and who led the group which entered Taj Mahal wearing saffron, said he was not representing the BJP but an organisation working for human rights. “Muslims are allowed to carry metres-long ‘chadar’ on ‘Urs’ of Shah Jahan, ‘biryani’ is cooked on Taj premises and drums are played but those wearing saffron are stopped at the gate. That is why we entered Taj wearing saffron after purchasing ticket,” he said. City unit president of the BJP Vijay Shivhare informed that the party had nothing to do with the protest.

Protestors handed over a memorandum to chief superintending archaeologist of ASI (Agra Circle) Bhuvan Vikram Singh to condemn Wednesday’s incident (HT Photo)

Earlier, the protestors gathered near Shanti Lodge in Tajganj adjoining the Taj Mahal premises at about 10 am. They raised slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘UP main rehna hai to Yogi Yogi kehna hai’ and this outcry brought locals to their roof tops. The road leading towards the eastern gate of the Taj was blocked and tourist had a tough time passing through.

Cops were on the alert as Tajganj has a mixed population and a prominent madarsa is also close by.

Police officials reached the spot but the protestors were adamant on entering Taj premises wearing saffron after purchasing ticket. They marched past the madarsa near Taj Mahal but were stopped at the barricade towards the eastern gate. They then sat on the road and chanted ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. Their own leaders found it tough to control them.

Reluctant to withdraw, the protestors agreed on handing over a memorandum to chief superintending archaeologist of ASI (Agra Circle) Bhuvan Vikram Singh to condemn Wednesday’s incident. They blamed senior conservation assistant of ASI, Munazzar Ali, who, however, said he was 40 km away in Fatehpur Sikri when the incident took place.

Dr Bhuvan Vikram Singh said preliminary probe indicated neither the ASI nor CISF men stopped the supermodels as they had cleared the checking point.

“Otherwise also, Union minister for culture Mahesh Sharma has clarified that there is no restriction on any specific colour worn by visitors entering Taj Mahal. The minister has ordered probe,” he said, adding some misunderstanding had led to the row.

Read more: BJP leader asks ASI if it will allow Yogi Adityanath to visit Taj wearing saffron