The demolition of a Hanuman Temple in Chandni Chowk in Delhi has created quite the controversy in the Union Territory. The temple was demolished as part of the Delhi Government’s Chandni Chowk Redevelopment Plan and was carried out by the NDMC which is controlled by the BJP. Now, the BJP in Delhi is blaming the AAP government for not saving the Temple.
The Delhi High Court had ordered the demolition of the Temple in November, 2019. The Delhi HC had overruled the Delhi Government’s ‘religious committee’ which suggested the integration of the Hanuman Mandir and the Shiv Temple in the re-development plan.
The Delhi High Court had also slammed the Delhi government for its “u-turn” on the removal of the temples, pointing out that the Court had directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in 2015 itself to clear encroachments, including the temple that stalled the progress of the Chandni Chowk redevelopment project.
Again, in November 2020, the Delhi High Court refused to entertain a plea by the Shri Manokamna Siddh Shri Hanuman Seva Samiti saying that any request to intervene must come from the AAP government itself.
“Once such a liberty was granted to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), and so far, GNCTD has not approached this court for any relief, we see no reason to entertain this application for intervention which is nothing but an attempt to reagitate the same issue that has been considered and rejected by an earlier order,” the Delhi High Court bench said.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation in December told the Delhi high court that it intends to demolish the Hanuman Temple soon. The demolition had been postponed several times until then citing various reasons. The date of demolition was scheduled for December 20 but nothing happened then as well. Ultimately, it was demolished in the wee hours of the intervening night between the 2nd and 3rd of January.
The BJP blames AAP for Hanuman Temple demolition
OpIndia spoke to the Praveen Shankar Kapoor, spokesperson for BJP Delhi, over the matter. We sought clarification regarding the same considering the fact that the NDMC had demolished the Temple and it was controlled by the BJP. He told us that there were two other religious structures proposed to be demolished that were protected by the Delhi government but the AAP refused to do the same for the Hanuman Mandir.
“The plan was of the Delhi Government, the order came from the Delhi High Court. The Delhi Government has saved two other religious places, why not the Hanuman Mandir?” Kapoor also said that the demolition was carried out without informing the Mayor. He said that Delhi Commissioner Satnam Singh carried out the demolition and there may be action taken against him.
Kapoor also said that he has not denied that the NDMC carried out the demolition but insisted that the NDMC could not refuse to carry out the Delhi High Court order. The only objection that could come was from the Delhi Government but it never came. He also insisted that the Hanuman Temple must be rebuilt.
Who is to blame for the Demolition?
There is significant blame game going on. It is pertinent to mention here that the November 2019 order by the Delhi High Court was passed in response to a plea filed by the Delhi Government seeking to change the Court’s earlier directions that the Lieutenant Governor should take measures to remove the religious structures hindering the plan.
The Court ordered the demolition after the architect said that the Temple will hamper the proposed work and that the demands made by the government committee was not implementable. Now the BJP is blaming the AAP for the demolition despite the fact that it was NDMC that demolished because it claims the Delhi Government could have intervened in the matter but did not.
The BJP also claims that the AAP saved two other structures but chose not to do so in the case of the Hanuman Temple. It is also apparent that when the NDMC said that they will demolish the Temple, they meant that they will implement the Court order. The civic body did move the Supreme Court where it was observed that the “responsibility to remove the encroachment is primarily of the municipal corporation. However, in such an endeavour, the government must extend a support to the corporation.”
It is not clear whether the NDMC made any effort to reverse the order mandating the demolition of the Temple or the measures it could have taken to ensure that the Temple was not demolished. It does not appear to have made any effort in overturning the Delhi High Court order. The Delhi Government, too, appears to have tried to reverse the Court order mandating the demolition but appears to have given up too soon.
Thus, while the Delhi High Court ordered the demolition of the Temple, it appears that BJP controlled NDMC and the AAP Government both failed to save the Temple.