The BJP-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation Thursday passed a unanimous resolution to retain the new Hanuman temple that came up overnight on the central verge at Chandni Chowk, to replace an older one demolished in January following a Delhi High Court order.
It said that rising above politics of ruling side and opposition, a decision was taken to allow the temple to remain where it is. The North MCD house also instructed the commissioner that no steps should be taken to remove the temple and to deal with religious structures of all religions with respect in the future.
The resolution will also be sent to the Delhi government so it does not take any action against the temple, it read. It further said religious sentiments of people living in the area were hurt when the temple was razed.
“I will go to the temple at Chandni Chowk shortly and offer my prayers to Lord Hanuman. We will also be writing to the Delhi government that as a resolution has been passed, the PWD should not include this temple in the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Project,” said North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash.
The Delhi government’s Public Works Department on Saturday had lodged a complaint with police seeking action against the setting up of the “pre-fabricated, steel structure” by unknown people.
The central verge is part of the pedestrianisation project of a 1.3-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid, undertaken by PWD. While the new temple is on the central verge, the earlier one was on the side of the road and would constrict traffic in Chandni Chowk. The landowning agency of the area where the structure came up is North MCD, and the 1.3-km stretch comes under PWD for maintenance and beautification purposes.
Mayor Prakash said both AAP, the principal opposition, and the Congress have supported the resolution.
Leader of Opposition from AAP Vikas Goel said, “We support the temple but the resolution was brought in late. Had they (MCD) moved it before, then the temple would not have been broken in the first place.”
Leader of Congress Mukesh Goel also said the party supports the resolution but hit out at the Delhi government and MCD: “If they had not called the temple an encroachment earlier, then it would not have been demolished.”
An all-party meeting of senior North MCD leaders was held on Tuesday to seek consensus before placing the proposal in the House on granting “legal status” to the pre-fabricated steel structure. It was attended by the mayor, deputy mayor, NDMC standing committee chairman and his deputy, Leader of House Yogesh Verma, AAP’s Vikas Goel and Congress’ Mukesh Goel.
Bypolls to two North MCD wards and three East MCD wards will be held on February 28.
The issue dates back to 2015, when a Delhi High Court division bench had directed the North MCD to remove five unauthorised religious structures, including the Hanuman temple, by May 2015. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court.
Following the demolition, a petition seeking directions to re-establish the temple came up for hearing before the apex court this month. However, it was withdrawn and the petitioners said they would “move a representation before the competent authority for considering a request for allotment of an alternate site, away from the area in question, which does not pose any danger to traffic or movement of pedestrians”. The SC allowed the request for withdrawal.