Chandigarh temple demolition: ‘Protest prayer’ blocks highway for 3 days

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Apr 07, 2016 17:31 IST
Protesters blocking highway between Sectors 45 and 50 in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Followers of the Shiv Shakti temple-cum-Nangli Ashram claimed it had been there for the past 40 years. (Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

The devotees, in the name of religion, sat and prayed on the road while the police appeared helpless and put up barricades, blocking an entire highway section between Sectors 45 and 50, as the protest over demolition of Shiv Shakti temple-cum-Nangli Ashram entered its third day on Wednesday.

Their meeting with the deputy commissioner-cum-estate officer, Ajit Balaji Joshi, was scheduled for Thursday.

Meanwhile, traffic on what is an arterial highway and also a key road for buses headed for the Sector-43 inter-state bus terminal (ISBT) had to be diverted on both sides of the stretch, on which a ‘protest prayer’ is being held by a about a dozen followers, including the four women who used to reside on the premises.

The temple and ashram spread over about three acres was demolished by the UT estate office on Monday afternoon even as the temple management claimed to have got a stay order from the civil court before the action was carried out.

DC Joshi said, “We will act as per the law. I will be meeting the members of the (Nangli) sect tomorrow (Thursday) as they’ve been told to come and share their concerns.”

Various followers claimed that the ashram had been there for the past 40 years and religious sentiments had been hurt by its demolition.

However, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), south, Kriti Garg said she had received no stay orders and had carried out the task assigned by superiors, and with due respect to the religious sentiments.

“We have the entire videography which shows the labourers removing their shoes and respectfully bringing the idols outside. We had called priests from the Burail jail,” she said, adding that the followers “should refrain from making it a political issue as the administration is concerned about the rehabilitation of the woman residents of the ashram”.

She called out as false the claims of hundreds of people residing in the ashram, and added, “The additional deputy commissioner (ADC) is in touch with the secretary of the Red Cross Society to relocate the women... They were offered relocation earlier, but they resisted.”

Meanwhile, station house officer, Sector 49, Ranjot Singh, said the protesting followers had said they would get up by Wednesday morning: “Traffic had to be diverted since they refused to get up.”

A senior police official said on the condition of anonymity that there could be a law and order problem if the cops forcibly removed the protesters.

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