Agra: Railways seeks shifting of temple; activists threaten mass suicide
Hindu activists have threatened to die by mass suicide after the Indian Railways issued a notice to relocate the 250-year-old Chamunda Devi Temple from Agra's Raja Ki Mandi Railway Station. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists staged a protest against the notice outside the Divisional Railway Manager's (DRM) office in Agra on Friday. They also chanted Hanuman Chalisa to show their resentment.
Why does this story matter?
The Indian Railways has issued notices for the relocation of the temple along with a mosque and a dargah as part of an anti-encroachment drive. The 10-day deadline for shifting the temple from the platform ends on Saturday. The issue gained steam after the temple's head priest gained support from some Muslim activists, headed by BJP leader Shabana Khandelwal, who opposed the Railways' move.
Why are Hindu activists protesting against Railways?
"The 300-year-old Chamunda Devi temple was already in existence in 1904. The Raja Ki Mandi station was shifted here in 1910," stated VHP's Digvijay Nath Tiwari. "The matter related to the temple had been taken (up) by the Allahabad High Court," he added. "The VHP and the Bajrang Dal will oppose any move to shift the temple," Tiwari said.
Even the British left the temple untouched: Activist
Rashtriya Hindu Parishad Bharat's National President Govind Parashar stated, "Even the British left the temple untouched during the laying of tracks, evidence of which can be seen in a curve in the track." "The administration is sending notices without knowing the history." The temple's Mahant Virendra Anand told India Today, "We will die, but no one will be able to move even one brick."
Why did railways initiate anti-encroachment drive?
A North Central Railways official said, "Encroachments are being removed in compliance with the orders passed by the Supreme Court." They added, "Because of the temple, there is a curve and the gap between the footrest of train and platform increases," which is unsafe for passengers. "Besides, this sharp curve...also hampers the speed of the trains. The speed...needs to be enhanced" the official added.
Notice has also been sent to mosque, dargah
The Railways has also served a notice to a mosque and the Bhure Shah Baba Dargah, both located on the premises of Agra Cantonment Railway Station. Ruksana, a member of the dargah care-taking committee, said, "It is centuries-old...the railway line and the yard are new constructions. How can the railway officials ask us to shift the dargah?" adding they have old documents as proof.
What is the current status of the case?
The district administration is reportedly working toward achieving a peaceful resolution. Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh advocated resolving the issue through consultation with stakeholders. Moreover, Hindu activist Parashar said, "The DM has assured us that he will make us and the DRM sit together and try to find a middle ground."Share this timeline