Muslim Resident Fights to Protect Temple in Delhi’s Okhla Area

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Temple situated in the walled boundry (Photo-Clarion India)

Syed Fouzul Azeem alerts police, petitions court against possible threat from Hindu owner of the land on which the temple is built

Ground report

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DLEHI – A Muslim resident of Noor Nagar in the Okhla area is making efforts to protect a temple in his locality from being demolished allegedly by the Hindu owner of the land on which it is built.

Noor Nagar is a locality densely populated by Muslims. There are nearly 50 Hindu households. The said temple is built on a piece of land that was owned by one Johri Lal who died a long time back. Late Johari Lal is said to have endowed this land to “Local Village society” for the purpose of “Dharamshala & Mandir”. Now his grandson Pawan Saini is claiming this property as his own and has started demolishing the structures on the land. The temple is so far intact. Clarion India visited the site and found a tiny temple, which is situated inside a walled boundary.

Syed Fouzul Azeem has drawn police’s attention to the possible threat to the temple. He also moved the Delhi High Court which on September 24 directed authorities to ensure the protection of the temple and Dharamshala (inn). Azeem, who calls himself a social worker, told Clarion India that a group of local Hindus living in the area came to him last month complaining about the temple at the risk of being removed.

Azeem said he alerted the SHO of Jamia Nagar police station but received no reply. So, he wrote to the Assistant Commissioner of Police of Sukhdev Vihar drawing his attention to the matter. In the letter, he said that a temple facing the prospect of demolition in a Muslim majority area may have its consequences.

Azeem’s apprehension was not without reason. Hitesh Shankar, who is editor of RSS-linked Hindi magazine Panchjanya, got wind of the controversy. On September 23, he intervened through a tweet in Hindi: “After demolishing a temple in the Muslim majority Noor Nagar locality of Delhi, all its traces are being removed. Those who have brought down the temple will have to rebuild it at the same place.”

Delhi Police, which so far had not responded to Azeem, was quick to respond. “Local Police visited the spot to verify the contents of the tweet. The property belongs to a member of the Hindu Community who himself was dismantling/ clearing the built up area adjacent to the temple in his own property. No harm to the temple has been caused and it is intact,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Delhi through a tweet.

This tweet prompted several Twitterati to demand action against Hitesh Shankar. “And will you take action against this person who tweeted this fake information, sir? Or will you allow him to rile up communal tension in the capital?,” asked Sania Ahmad.

“Act to create disharmony among communities is a punishable offence under Section 153 A in IPC. Kindly tell us what action you have taken against this fellow whom you have found was spreading rumour which could have caused communal tension,” Prashant Tandon asked the Delhi Police in another tweet.

Pawan Saini, the grandson of late Johri Lal, when contacted by Clarion India, said through his lawyer Tiwari that the property belongs to him. “This is my personal property. I bought it from the government in 1961. We have been living here ever since. Now the property is run down so we are demolishing it to build a new structure,” he said.

Saini reiterated that this is a residential place where no Dharamshala ever existed. But he acknowledged the existence of the temple. “Some vested interests belonging to other jaati (meaning caste or community) are giving wrong information to the court. We are going to challenge them. They are claiming that we are pulling down the temple, which is wrong. No harm has been done to the temple. It’s intact,” he said.

 

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