In midnight swoop, Palike razes temple, church on its land

In midnight swoop, Palike razes temple, church on its land
Tension prevailed in Vasanthnagar near Jasma Bhavan on Queen’s Road as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demolished an Om Shakthi Temple and a small church built on Palike’s property on Friday midnight.

According to BBMP sources, around 13,500 sqft of prime land near Jasma Bhavan was leased out to one Dr Nagaraj for 99 years in 1976 to build a charitable hospital. Next to the land are residential quarters for the poor, who have been staying there for the past 40 years. The hospital was never built on the land. However, around two decades ago, locals built an Om Shakthi temple and a church. On Friday night, BBMP officials, in the presence of policemen, bulldozed the temple.

Maheshwari, a resident, said, “The policemen ordered us to remain indoors and cordoned off the area. The temple and the church were razed. When some people went out to protest, police beat them up.” Another woman Shanthi said hundreds of women used to visit this temple. Women from far off places would throng to this temple especially on Fridays, a large number of followers of the Om Shakthi sect from nearby areas held a sit-in demonstration chanting ‘Om Shakthi, Para Shakthi’ demanding that the BBMP should immediately restore the temple. Opposition leader in the BBMP council Padmanabha Reddy, former Sampangiramnagar corporator M Gopi and others too joined the protest.

Reddy told reporters the BBMP was in slumber all these years and woke up only on Friday night to reclaim its property. Reddy said his outcry against the high and mighty grabbing BBMP land on Millers Road had fallen on deaf ears. “Palike could not see poor people creating their own space of worship. The BBMP should come out with a white paper on places of worship built on its property and explain in how many cases, such structures were demolished. We demand immediate restoration of the temple. Or else, we will intensify our agitation,” said Reddy.

Notices earlier
BBMP special commissioner S G Raveendra said the BBMP had earlier served notices on Dr Nagaraj asking him why the lease should not be cancelled when no development had taken place. Recently, the doctor responded requesting the Palike to cancel the notice as he was ready to build a charitable hospital for the poor.

“We have sent Dr Nagaraj’s request to the state government,” said Raveendra.A huge number of policemen were deployed on the spot to prevent any untoward incident. Assistant commissioner of police Prabhakar Barki told DH, “The residents have lodged a complaint with us. We have also asked the BBMP to furnish us details.”
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