The all-party bandh in Dombivli over the ongoing tussle over a plot of land near the Pimpleshwar Temple was succesful, with most shops and many industrial units remaining shut.
For the most part, the bandh was peaceful but stray instances of miscreants puncturing bus tyres were reported.
Two local MLAs, Ramesh Patil of MNS and Ravindra Chavan of BJP, had supported the bandh call, backing the demand of temple trustees to get back the land that has allegedly been illegally encroached upon by a senior IPS officer.
“Our demand is simple. The land, which is in possession of the Pimpleshwar Temple, has been taken over by IPS officer Mari Lou Fernandes. The police did not have adequate information and did this under pressure of the IPS officer. Since the matter is subjudice and the court had ordered both parties to maintain status quo, we want the police to evict her from the land, as they allowed her to take over the space,” said Chavan.
A meeting was held on August 15 between the Temple's trustees and the IPS officer — in the presence of the police. However, the matter could not be resolved amicably. At present, the land is under the jurisdiction of the MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation), which will decide on the matter.
Chavan alleged that Fernandes does not own any part of the land. “She is taking undue advantage of her status as an IPS officer, and is manipulating is by showing the 7/12 extract papers [to prove her ownership] bearing her father’s name.”
Chavan said that the temple has stood on the land for the last 40 years. “In 1974, the state government had acquired hundreds of acres of land and set up the MIDC here, so the land which Fernandes claims is hers actually belongs to the MIDC and is in the temple’s possession,” Chavan added.
Fernandes, however, claimed that the land belonged to her father, who had purchased it in 1961.
“The 7/12 papers in my father’s name prove that the MIDC had not acquired this land. It appears as though some anti-social elements are playing a role in the issue. They are trying to grab the land by portraying it as a Hindu-Christian conflict. It is a civil matter, and I have every right to stay on my land,” she said.