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Protests erupt over temple demolition

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Lakshmi Narayan Mandirsource: mygola.com

 

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir source: mygola.com
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
source: mygola.com

By NewsGram News Desk

New Delhi: In yet another temple demolition ordered by court taking a religious turn for worse, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials had to return empty handed without executing Delhi High Court order as locals protested against demolition with the help of some religious groups.

“As the team arrived to demolish the Laxmi Narayan Mandir in Priyadarshini Vihar, tension erupted in the area. The protestors blocked the roads leading to the area,” a DDA official was quoted as saying.

 

India is not alien to such situation where temples, mosques and other religious places are built on illegal land and when the courts order demolition, protests erupt. The religious groups appear as if they represent the whole religion and whether or not the land belongs to the temple, they go on rampage.

 

This habit of irrational protests have, in past, stalled several developmental projects or, at least, delayed them. They not only protest but also create law and order problem by vandalising public and private property in a show of misplaced anger.

 

“Shops were shut down. A fire-tender, 13 Delhi Transport Corporation buses and two JCB machines (backhoe loader) were vandalised,” the official said.

 

The DDA team had to return without demolishing the temple as local residents along with various religious groups protested against it. “Protestors along with religious groups burnt tyres at various places to express their anger, forcing us to return without any further demolition,” the official added.

 

The police said that the demolition of Laxmi Narayan Mandir was ordered by the Delhi High court. The temple is built over approximately 1,000 square yards of land, along with its prayer hall.

 

“Following directions of the high court, the authority (DDA) on September 3 had demolished the satsang hall of the temple. The remaining construction was to be demolished in next two days. But it was interrupted due to the continuous protest from the locals and religious groups,” a police official was quoted as saying.

 

“Protesting against the demolition order of the high court, locals closed down Laxmi Nagar market, vandalised government property and also burnt tyres,” he said, “In view of the continuous protests, the temple could not be demolished today.”


With inputs from IANS

 

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The Displaced Artists of Kathputli Colony have already become Kathputlis (Puppets) at the hands of DDA, what next? Kathputli Colony Demolition Drive and its Loopholes

The road leading to Kathputli Colony is now populated with tv sets, air coolers, brooms, buckets, chairs and clothes stacked in a messy manner that previously filled the over 500 houses that were razed by the DDA authorities.

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Kathputli Colony
Just ahead of the ‘wedding season’, when these street performers earn the maximum throughout the year, the demolition drive has not only uprooted their houses, it has also snatched potential livelihood opportunities from the artists of Kathputli Colony. (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 3, 2017 : On an ideal evening, one would have found newly made dolls resting on large beds on the terraces here, artists rehearsing to the beats of the dhol, and freshly carved wooden artifacts decorated along the walls as the smell of fresh paint would fill a densely populated neighborhood.

Welcome to Kathputli Colony – the hub of artists who perform at international events and travel across sees with diplomats; the ambassadors of traditional Indian art forms. The place, brimming with the rustic charm of the rich Indian arts, has been home to the world’s largest community of street performers- they have been a family of over 3,500 artists.

Kathputli Colony
An artist from Kathputli Colony with his puppet during happier times. Wikimedia

Kathputli Colony, which translates to ‘puppet’, brings together a myriad of craftspeople and performing artists – magicians, artists, puppeteers, acrobats, dancers, snake charmers, and singers.

This neighborhood now, however, is a victim of urbanization.

A walk into West Delhi’s Kathputli Colony on any normal day would have exposed you to the myriad of colors and art forms brimming in the neighborhood. But on October 31, you would have only found four backhoe loaders (diggers) bringing several houses down to rubble, as the residents stood as spectators or scouted for belongings before their house was completely shattered. Fallen electricity poles and sewage water now lined the streets that were previously populated with newly made puppets as demolitions by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials were carried out with full force.

Ten months after the DDA had started demolishing houses at the Kathputli Colony for a redevelopment project aimed at providing concrete settlement to the artists, more people were forcibly evicted from their houses on October 31.

The in-situ redevelopment project at Kathputli Colony had been announced in 2009 under a public private partnership between the DDA and Raheja Developers Limited.

The residents of the colony had stood united against the demolitions; however, the DDA has finally succeeded in evicting these artists from their settlement.

Kathputli Colony Redevelopment Plan

The redevelopment project is a partnership between the DDA and Raheja Developers Limited, a real estate firm, under which flats have been stipulated to be built in place of the slums at Kathputli Colony.

For the construction period, the residents of the slum are to be shifted to makeshift arrangements made at a camp in Anand Parbat and Narela.

As per the plan, the residents will be able to shift to the flats after they are ready within a period of two years.

According to official reports, this project is touted to be the first step towards building and ensuring a slum-free Delhi.

According to a press statement released by the DDA, it was revealed that the demolition activities are being carried out in compliance with the High Court’s orders. It was also revealed that the DDA is shifting residents of the colony to the transit camps in Anand Parbat and Pocket G-7, G-8, Narela, as per the orders of the High Court. “Accordingly, arrangements have been made by DDA to provide transportation to transit camp at Anand Parbat, and Narela; ambulance for medical care and ample supply of food and drinking water at all the three sites,” the statement read.

A Look At The Reality

Previously brimming with colors and talent, the Kathputli Colony now stands deserted amid rubble. Outside broken houses and closed shutters of shops that remain, sit people surrounded by furniture, utensils, trunks and mattresses.

The road leading to Kathputli Colony is now populated with tv sets, air coolers, brooms, buckets, chairs and clothes stacked in a messy manner that previously filled the nearly 500 houses that were razed by the DDA authorities.

Along them stand displaced artists and their families, which include children as young as newborns, who have taken shelter on the roads and under the Shadipur Depot flyover.

Just ahead of the ‘wedding season’, when these street performers earn the maximum throughout the year, the demolition drive has not only uprooted their houses, it has also snatched potential livelihood opportunities from these artists.

The residents have been asked to relocate to Narela, an industrial area at a distance of 30 kms from the Kathputli Colony, where these artists are not hopeful to find any alternate opportunities. Additionally, travelling 30 kms back to West Delhi will not be affordable, which has further dampened their spirits.

Loopholes

1.  In 2014, when reports of demolitions first surfaced, DDA Vice-chairman Bavinder Kumar was quoted as saying in a report by The Indian Express that no force would be used to relocate the residents of the Kathputli Colony to the makeshift arrangement in Anand Parbat. The same argument was cited preceding the demolition drive on October 31.

However, DDA’s action was protested by local residents and activists, which resulted in police using force. Consequently, reports of a lathi-charge by the police were soon to surface immediately following the beginning of the drive around noon on October 31. Additionally, the slum area was also tear-gassed.

According to multiple reports, Annie Raja (secretary) and Philomina John (general secretary (Delhi)) of the National Federation of Indian Women backed by CPI, were also injured during the drive. Philomina Johan, aged 77, who fractured her leg due to coarse action by the police, told The Wire that the police force was primarily male.

The two were later admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.

There are also reports of several people inhaling the tear gas, with reports of the death of a toddler upon gas inhalation published by The Telegraph among others.

According to DCP (Central Delhi) Mandeep Singh Randhawa, “mild force involving tear gas was used during the demolition process.”

The officer added that the locals pelted stones at the officers which left nine police personnel injured.

2. The DDA authorities maintained that regular announcements were being made through loud speakers about the demolition drive. Further, they asserted that a notice for eviction had been officially issued three months ago.

However, as per the DDA website, the most recent official notice is dated December 22, 2016.

Kathputli Colony
Interface of the DDA notices on their webpage. DDA Website

 The displaced artists of
Kathputli Colony have already
become kathputlis (puppets)
at the hands of DDA
as questions on their future
looms large. 

These loopholes in the demolition drive further shed light on the larger abnormalities in the issue –

  • Are the transit camps at Anand Parbat and Narela sufficient to accommodate all residents of Kathputli Colony?
  • Just ahead of winters, how safe will be the makeshift arrangement being provided to residents?
  • How does the DDA or the government plan to provide livelihood to the displaced artists?
  • Will the proposed EWS flats be ready in time?
  • What will be the procedure to allot the flats to the artists?
  • Will the displaced Kathputli Colony residents be able to afford the flats made under the PPP?

As these questions continue to haunt the minds of the displaced Kathputli Colony residents, they continue to struggle alongside roads and under flyovers in West Delhi.

 

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People from East Java Community Organisations Demand Demolition of a Chinese God Statue

Protestors claim the representation of a warrior god fails to reflect Indonesian culture

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Chinese god
Kwan Kong, warrior god, fails to reflect Indonesian culture. Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of people from East Java community organizations rallied in Surabaya on Monday, demanding that a statue of a Chinese god be demolished.

Claiming the representation of a warrior god known variously as Kwan Sing Tee Koen, Kwan Kong, Kuan-Ti or Guan-Yu fails to reflect Indonesian culture, protesters gathered in front of the East Java Provincial Legislative Building to demand the statue’s demolition.

The brightly colored, 30-meter-tall statue at the Kwan Seng Bio temple in Tuban, East Java, is now draped in cloth. Local Chinese Indonesians, a minority in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, contend the protesters do not understand that the Confucian god marshals people against the war. And a local official said the only problem with the statue is that it lacks a building permit, a snafu caused by an internal dispute at the temple.

ALSO READ: Why Do You Ring a Bell at Temple Doorstep? Find Here!

Religious divides raise tension

The protest over the statue of the Chinese god comes during a time of religious tension in Indonesia.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, center, is escorted by prosecutors as enters the court room for his sentencing hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 9, 2017.

In Jakarta, Islamist protests against the Chinese Christian governor, Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, turned violent during his recent re-election campaign. Purnama is now serving a two-year sentence for blasphemy after losing in April to Anies Baswedan, who was backed by hardline proponents of political Islam.

In July, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued a decree banning the group Hizbut Tahrir, which advocates for a global Islamic caliphate. And while Indonesia is an officially secular country that recognizes six religions, Islamic sharia law has been on the rise.

An Islamic group member covers his face with Hizbut Tahrir flag during a protest against the decree allowing the government to disband organizations deemed to run counter to the secular state, in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 28, 2017.

Didik Muadi, who coordinated the Tuban protest, told local media that many consider the statue an insult to Indonesia. The enormous figure has dominated the local landscape since it was unveiled in July by Zulkifli Hasan, chairman of the People’s Consultative Body, who told local media he hoped the statue would become a tourist attraction.

Statue’s height seen as menacing

That didn’t sit well with Didik Maudi. “If they want to make a memorial statue, it should not be that high,” he said. “Maybe it should be a maximum of two meters, and inside the temple, if it is a memorial. This statue is so tall, it’s as if the god of war has taken over Tuban, and we can’t allow that!”

The chairman of the Regional Association of Chinese-Indonesians in East Java, Gatot Santosom, said the Tuban protest was based on a lack of understanding of the god depicted.

“They misunderstood and thought the statue is of a general, that we worship a war general, but that’s not true,” said Gatot Santosom. “What we worship and respect is what he symbolizes – loyalty, our loyalty to humanity – and he defends justice. That’s what we worship, not the war, no.”

Where’s the building permit?

The 30-meter statue at the Kwan Seng Bio temple in Tuban, East Java drew outside protesters earlier this week who contended the image of the Chinese warrior god – who protects against war – does not represent Indonesian culture.

Abu Cholifah, a member of the Tuban Regency Legislative Body, said the debate about the Tuban temple statue was an effort by outsiders who wanted to turn a statue of a Chinese god into a political issue in a nation with a long history of persecuting the Chinese community.

“The people of Tuban, actually, have no problem with it, because the statue has been there for some time,” said Abu Cholifah. “I think [outsiders] politicized the issue for their own interests. As far as the people of Tuban, no one is politicizing the statue.”

If there is any issue with the statue, Abu Cholifah said, it is that the local government failed to issue a building permit before it was erected.

“Every building in Tuban must have an IMB,” Abu Cholifah said. “But because there is an internal conflict in terms of management of the temple as a foundation,” no IMB was issued.

(VOA NEWS)

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Heard of Tandoori Momos? : Tibetan Refugees Contribute to Indian Cuisine

The Tandoori Momos have become so popular in the Indian cuisine thanks to the contributions of Tibetan Refugees

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Tandoor Momos
Momos. Wikimedia
  • The momos are a delicious contribution to the Indian street food
  • Given an Indian touch, the Tandoori Momos have gained popularity very rapidly
  • Some even call this soft power strategy branding it as a threat to Indian culture

July 12, 2017: The Indian public loves Tandoori Momos but that is due to the  Tibetan Refugees, who sheltered in India and have successfully added the dish to the Indian cuisine.

It is not clear if momos are exclusive to Tibetan tradition considering the strong influence that China has exerted in the region. It is more likely a Chinese tradition if we look at the wider Dim-Sum categories.

Momos was a cheap dish, making it favourite among the peasants. Made of flour, meat, and local spices, the momos became a part of every common household.

The Dalai Lama’s entry to India in 1959 in search of a new home (in the form of Dharamshala) brought with it a few Tibetans. A sizeable number more penetrated in the 1960s. Not surprisingly, the Indian government that was accommodating refugees from other different states also welcomed the Tibetan people with housing.

ALSO READ: “Do not Stand and Drink Water” : Here is Why it is often said so!

Slowly, the diaspora came to the capital Delhi, providing them with an opportunity to set up road side stalls to sell their special artifacts and decors, particularly Janpath which is a busy street.

The diaspora was now in Delhi, continuously shifting towards east and northeast. They saw the Punjabi idea of food becoming the quickest way of recognition and interaction. Momos, as it seems, were easy to make roadside. Pork was added upon entering into Calcutta.

By the 1980s when its popularity peaked, other cultures like Bengalis, Nepalis, and Khasis entered the momo-making business.

It soon became like the present situation today. Momo sellers could be spotten in every Delhi market. Outside colleges, offices, bus stands, everywhere.

Once again, momo business started growing again, even entering the region of Jammu and Kashmir.

It so happened recently that a BJP legislator, Ramesh Arora, organized a protest against momos even going till the extent of branding the food “more dangerous than alcohol or psychotopic drugs” as the teenagers are getting hooked on to it.

ALSO READ: Food Lovers: Indulge in Gluttony this Dim Sum Festival in Maharashtra

According to www.scmp.com report, Mr. Arora and co. actually feel that the momos are a threat to the Indian culture and cuisine, and that the dish is a soft power strategy of China (unaware of the fact that dumplings is more closely associated with India than China).

The protests were carried out with slogans and signs such as “Momo- the silent killer”. Going one step further, in the only air time that he is expected to get in his lifetime, Arora tried warning the nation that Chinese cuisine causes cancer of the intestine!

Demonstrations and protests, as it seems, can emerge out of nothing and for absolutely nothing. This cruelty to momos was watched by thousands who took it as a part of the daily media coverage, only with hilarity.

– prepared By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394