Civic body razes three shrines at Mazagaon
After issuing notices to 729 unauthorised religious structures in February, the municipal corporation carried out its first demolition drive in Mazagaon by breaking down two roadside temples and a cross on Thursday.
Residents of Mazagaon’s Love Lane were enraged when two vans of policemen and workers wielding sledgehammers, along with a bulldozer, brought down the Hathibaug Cross, the 19-year-old Jalaram Bappa Mandir and a Maruti Mandir, which locals claim is more than century-old.
Caretakers of these shrines were sent notices on February 10 and 28, citing a Supreme Court order that deems illegal any structure on the road or pavement that block traffic and infrastructure work.
“We had sent them (E-ward civic office) maps and documents to prove that our cross was built in 1936. It doesn’t come in anyone’s way,” said Maria Britto, a member of the Hathibaug Cross Committee.
Britto claims that they did not expect the cross to be razed because the ward officers had given them a verbal assurance that their shrine would not be touched. Locals even hold an annual feast on May 3.
Members of the Maruti Mandir Mandal also claimed they had submitted the city plans of 1918 and 1951, which included the temple in the map.
“After the second notice we offered to pull down the shrine so that we could do it with dignity, but they sent bulldozers soon after we started,” said Zaveri Gala, the mandal’s treasurer.
On Monday, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar had assured representatives of community organisations that any action would be stayed for a week.
Deputy municipal commissioner Milind Sawant was not available for comment.
Replying to a text message, state minorities commission member Abraham Mathai said: “We did not get any communication [from the municipal commissioner]…due process is followed in this case. The government needs to define what is illegal, and must give adequate time to caretakers to make arrangements for the respectful removal of shrines.”