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Modi halts demolitions

india Updated: Nov 22, 2008 00:40 IST
Rathin Das
Rathin Das
Hindustan Times
Modi halts demolitions

Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday put on hold the demolition of illegal temples in capital Gandhinagar after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) compared it to the plundering of temples by Mahmod of Ghazni in medieval India.

In the last one week, the district administration has demolished nearly 200 temples along the city roads as part of its anti-encroachment drive.

The Chief Minister, who returned from a tour of Uganda and Kenya early Friday, ordered the drive to a halt soon after meeting VHP working president Ashok Singhal at his residence.

Neither Modi nor Singhal shared the details of the meeting held without the help of aides. However, sources in the VHP said Singhal, who had visited some of the sites on Thursday night, told Modi that razing temples was “anti-Hindu” and akin to the destruction of temples, including Somnath, by Ghazni.

The temples should not be demolished because it was a matter of faith for lakhs of people who visited them, the VHP leader had said on Thursday.

He also took up with Modi the arrest of north Gujarat VHP general secretary Ashwin Patel. Patel was arrested for sending SMSes blaming Modi for the July 26 serial blasts in the city. The CM, however, didn’t promise early release of Patel being held on charges of sedition.

The MahaGujarat Janata Party (MJP), which has been opposing the drive, claimed Modi’s order was as a moral victory for it. Leaders who were expelled from the BJP floated the MJP last year.

General secretary Sunil Oza told HT that Modi wanted to go one up on the VHP, but couldn’t.