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Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘Will lead to clashes’: At protest against Haj House, Dwarka residents, BJP leaders share stage

Protest comes days after the “residents’ federation” wrote to L-G asking him to cancel allotment made for the Haj House

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: August 6, 2021 10:17:41 pm
On Friday, a green carpet was laid out on the field for protesters to sit, as heads of the various organisations took turns to speak on the mic. (Express Photo)

Hundreds of people gathered on an empty ground in Dwarka’s Sector 22 at 10 am Friday to protest against the construction of a proposed Haj House at the spot. The gathering included people who claimed they were members of a residents’ federation representing at least 5,000 residents, BJP leaders, and outfits such as the Hindu Shakti Sangathan and the Sampoorna Dehat.

The All Dwarka Residents’ Federation had earlier written to Lt-Governor Anil Baijal, who is also chairperson of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), asking him to cancel land allotment made for the Haj House, saying: “There is a strong apprehension that brotherhood, harmony and peace in the society, apart from law and order, will be disturbed if the said Haj House is allowed to be constructed in Dwarka and, furthermore, there will be every possibility of riots, migration of Hindus, and repetition of situation like Shaheen Bagh, Jafrabad and Kashmir.”

On Friday, a green carpet was laid out on the field for protesters to sit, as heads of the various organisations took turns to speak on the mic. The open fields roared with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and ‘Hindu Ekta’, and slogans such as ‘Haj House nahi banega yahan’. Protesters carried placards reading: ‘Haj House hi kyun? School, college, hospital kyun nahi?’”

Also present were heads of several villages, who said they did not want the government to construct a Haj House with taxpayers’ money as it would be of no use to them.

Bhudev Prasad Vaishnav, secretary of the residents’ federation, said, “It would lead to chaos. There will be hundreds and thousands of pilgrims and just as many vehicles to transport them. There will be clashes between them and us…”

Asked to explain, Vaishnav said, “If we look at instances from the past, we can visualise that the spirit of brotherhood will be affected. This is an important area at a strategic location… because of its proximity to the airport, if something happens here, the entire world will know about it. Hence, I say that it is a subject of national interest.”

Ram Kumar Solanki, a village pradhan, said, “When a masjid came up, we did not say anything because it was not constructed by the government. These are Hindu-majority areas. We strongly oppose the construction of the Haj House; our cultures do not match with theirs.”

A police officer said there were “around 500-600 protesters” at the site, but he did not comment on whether they had permission. Under DDMA guidelines, social, political, sports, religious, cultural, and festival- related gatherings are banned in view of Covid.

Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, who was among those present, also tweeted photos from the protest: “Protest by local residents of 360 gram panchayats… Delhi Dehat has a huge contribution in the development of Delhi; we support them and will not let their voices be stifled. Arvind Kejriwal believes in the policy of appeasement and not development.”

Organisers at the protest said Gupta had “joined us as a Hindu, not as a representative of the BJP”.

The foundation stone of the Haj House was laid in 2008, by then CM Sheila Dikshit. Protesters said that they had protested against it back then as well. The project was put on the back burner and it was in 2018 that the Delhi government allocated Rs 94 crore for it.

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