Trampling over Delhi's Lungs
The calm of Lodhi Gardens, spread over more than 100 acres in the heart of Lutyen’s when a thousand Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists virtually took over the park for a couple of hours for a ‘mango and ice-cream picnic", organized ostensibly to "propagate" the idea of Akhand Bharat." When they finished, there were mangled gates and railings, damaged pathways and trampled plants, not to mention a disgruntled band of walkers.
But the organisers are unrepentant. Says former BJP MP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader B.L. Sharma: "In the 50th year of Independence, we decided to highlight the idea of an Akhand (undivided) Bharat. We want Pakistan and Bangladesh to be united with their motherland. This function was a launching pad for raising a public memorial to thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who lost their lives during Partition, which is to be constructed at Mehrauli at a cost of Rs 100 crore. Is the picnics organized everyday by hundreds of people, who often indulge in indecent behaviour in the garden? No one stops them!"
Says L.K. Joshi, general manager of IIC who was instrumental in getting a high court order to stop designer Ritu Beri from holding a fashion show: "The public function organized by Sharma was vandalism at its worst. The garden was badly damaged. Public functions can be held at stadia like Talkatora or at the Ramlila ground. Why spoil the only historic garden in the city?" Is the saffron brigade listening?