(From left) The demolished shops at the temple complex. People lay seize on the 3D machine of district administration.
Amidst heavy opposition from the people, demolition squad led by Raipur district administration and Raipur Municipal Corporation demolished over one and a half dozen shops situated within the disputed Hanuman temple annex at Mahadev Ghat. The demolition drive which was carried out in compliance of the order issued by Supreme Court of India, had to be carried out with heavy deployment of police personnel, that too during the wee hours on Sunday.
Despite order for total demolition of the disputed temple by the Apex Court, the district administration had to back off after demolition of one and a half dozen shops, due to stiff opposition from local people.
Seeing stiff opposition from people and anticipating law and order situation, the district administration had to stop the demolition process. Talking to The Hitavada, Collector Om Prakash Chaudhary said, “Law and order situation compelled us to stop demolition of illegal constructions at Mahadev Ghat in the midst. As per the Supreme Court order, out team equipped with JCB and other equipment reached the spot on Sunday morning and started razing down illegal constructions in front of the temple. In the meantime, a large number of people gathered and climbed up the JCB machine, creating a law and order situation.” When asked about the future course of action, he said, “We cannot make it public in view of the gravity of the situation.”
It is worth mentioning here that an old Hanuman temple situated upon a two acre government land was renovated into a beautiful temple structure by Chaganlal Govindram Agrawal Trust. Later the trust had also constructed a commercial complex housing 19 shops within the temple annex. A social organisation ‘Hamar Sangwari’ opposed the move and demanded action against the encroachment. Multiple petitions were filed by the organisation in various courts.
Lastly, while disposing off the petition filed by the organization, Supreme Court of India had ordered removal of said encroachment from the government land.
In the meanwhile, several religious organisations and political parties came forward in support of the temple and regular programmes like signature campaigns, public meetings, religious conferences were being held. Several off-shoots of religious and political organizations even carried out opinion polls.
On Sunday, the demolition squad led by district administration and Raipur Municipal Corporation officials reached at Mahadev Ghat in the early morning. However, the political outfits and people engaged in saving the temple from getting demolished somehow got the inkling that the district administration had initiated the drive process. Social media also played a crucial role in this direction and in no time irrespective of being early morning, large number of Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers started accumulating at the spot. Getting inkling about the development, recitation of Akhand Ramayan was started by Ramayan Mandalis from Durg and Rajnandgaon from Saturday night onwards.
Huge crowd accumulated at the temple premises.
Meanwhile, the demolition squad of district administration reached the temple site at around 3 am on Sunday. Over 150 police personnel were deployed to check any kind of untoward incident. Thereafter, the demolition squad demolished all 19 shops immediately. By that time hundreds of people from different parts of the city had accumulated at the spot. Several people even laid seize on the bull-dozer and 3-D machines brought by district administration and shouted slogans.
Additional Superintendent of Police Vijay Agrawal said police had to face stiff opposition from people during the demolition drive. He informed that the commercial complex adjoining the disputed temple annex has been demolished but due to heavy opposition from the local people demolition of temple structure has been suspended temporarily.
Talking to media persons Hamar Sangwari Convener Rakesh Choubey alleged that the State Government is not complying with the Supreme Court orders regarding demolishing of the disputed temple site. On the other hand some people are trying to save the same through a well-planned campaign and the administration has been a silent spectator. He added that during hearing on July 12 he will present the facts before the Supreme Court. He also stated that he is feeling threatened being the whistle-blower and demanded that State Government should provide security to him.