Categories: INDIA NEWS

Day later, AAP, BJP offer prayers at Hanuman Mandir, trade charges over earlier demolition

Orange balloons and flags with Jai Shri Ram written on them adorned the area around the Hanuman Mandir that came up in Chandni Chowk overnight on Friday, to replace one demolished in January following the Delhi High Court’s orders. Leaders from the Delhi BJP and AAP, meanwhile, visited the temple on Saturday to offer prayers. Both parties say locals are responsible for installing the new structure — pre-made and comprising a steel and glass fabricated body — and both insist they have no objection to it.

On the temple ostensibly lacking clearance by authorities, the North MCD Mayor had on Friday said permission is not needed for “an act of God”.

Earlier in the day, AAP leader Durgesh Pathak, who is the party in-charge for next year’s MCD polls, visited the temple and blamed the North MCD for demolishing the original structure. He said the people of Chandni Chowk had rebuilt it with their faith. On being asked about clearance for such a structure, he said he was there as a Hanuman bhakt and unaware of “technical” issues.

“In demolishing this temple, the MCD played with the faith of the devotees. But devotees have rebuilt it. AAP stands with them and we have come here to pray before Lord Hanuman that he removes all the crises from this country and the world. In times of Covid, people have lost jobs, people have suffered huge losses in terms of health and wealth, we pray that Lord Hanuman protects everyone and eliminates their problems,” he said.

In response to Pathak’s statement, Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said the original temple was demolished as part of the Delhi government’s beautification plan, based on a court order. He claimed, “Locals including myself made several appeals to the Delhi government but in vain. The Kejriwal government did not consider modifying the plan nor did it consider the case in its religious committee for protection from being razed and it even rejected pleas for relocation nearby.”

At noon, a number of BJP leaders visited the Mandir. Local councillor Ravi Kaptan and ex-councillor Surekha Gupta were among those present. Kapoor said, “This temple is for all… even Durgesh Pathak visited in the morning. We have no objection at all as this is not about any single political party but for the people.” On Friday, the Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta had offered prayers at the temple.

Several residents and shopkeepers joined in as the Hanuman Chalisa was recited 12 times and prasad was served afterwards.

A banner by the Navyuvak Bajrang Sewa Sangathan welcoming people was set up in front of the temple. Dheeraj Kumar (26), a Chandni Chowk resident who said that he is a part of the Sangathan, said, “The Sangathan played an instrumental role in setting up the mandir. We had been involved in its activities for a long time. When it was taken down, we were absolutely helpless. I was not present the night it was rebuilt, but a few of my friends were. They started getting the material in at around 1.30 am and by 4 am, it was complete.” Political leaders still maintained the mandir was set up by locals and no specific group.

Bidya Bhushan (65), a resident of Chandni Chowk who was present at the inauguration, said: “Around 1-1.30 am, I heard some construction work… I came out and watched from my lane for a few minutes. The next morning, the mandir was complete.”

While this temple is on the central verge, the earlier one was on the side of the road and would constrict traffic in Chandni Chowk, which is being redeveloped into a modern, shopper-friendly market.

The razing of that temple had also been challenged in the Supreme Court by Jitendra Singh Vishen and a demand was made to reestablish the temple in the same location. However, a bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah had observed that the needs of common people have to be kept in mind and that the pujari can apply for an alternative site, away from vehicles and pedestrians.

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