The Uttarakhand government is holding an anti-encroachment drive to demolish religious structures built illegally on government grounds. On Saturday, the Haridwar district demolished one mazar and one temple that were allegedly built illegally on the roads.
According to the reports, the mazar at Aryanagar was more than three decades old while the Hanuman temple built under a flyover at Singhdwar on the Haridwar-Delhi highway was nearly 50 years old.
So far the drive has demolished 200 tombs and 27 temples in the state, clearing about 56 hectares of land in the state. Chief conservator of forests and special secretary to the Chief Minister, Parag Madhukar Dhakate has told the media, "The work to identify encroachments on forest land is on. So far, we have removed 227 illegally built religious structures, including 200 tombs (mazaars) and 27 temples from forest land in the state," he added, "There are various kinds of encroachments on forest land, such as hutments, resorts, houses etc.”
On April 19, Dhakate was appointed as the nodal officer for identifying and removing these illegal structures built for different purposes including religious activities.
Two days ago, the administration demolished mazars built illegally in two places.
The reports also pointed out that Deputy Collector Puran Singh Rana said that this action is being taken constitutionally on the orders of the Supreme Court and the High Court. He said that the law and order situation is normal at present and no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands. Describing the actions as fair, Rana said that illegal encroachments on government properties would be demolished irrespective of the community they belong to.
The chief minister of the state Pushkar Singh Dhami told the media last week after a cabinet meeting, "Till now the land in the state was being bought without any check. Now the same will be allowed after background check of the buyers to know why they want to buy land in the state, why they want to come into the state and why they want to live here."
He spoke about not allowing illegal encroachments by religious groups and showed concern over 'demographic changes' in the state. According to the reports, Dhami will not allow 'land jihad' to happen and mentioned, "identified around 1,000 places where mazaars (tombs) and other structures have been illegally built," according to a report by Hindustan Times.
Pointing out the topic of fixing the 'imbalances in demography', the Congress criticised the move. Reportedly, Mathura Dutt Joshi, state Congress vice-president said, "People in the state want jobs and an end to corruption. Instead of doing that, the BJP government is removing mazaars from forest land to divert the attention of the people."
According to the reports, denying the claim of 'hiding their failures with religious polarisation' by Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party in-charge of the state Manveer Singh Chauhan said, "The government is removing religious encroachments of all kinds and not targeting any one particular community.” He also added, "Congress has a habit of unnecessarily politicising issues. They are indulging in their age-old appeasement politics on this issue, too."
(With PTI inputs)