Traders protest demolitions for Varanasi temple project

Traders protest demolitions for Varanasi temple project

Varanasi, Image for Representation

Scores of traders have embarked on a 'dharna' in protest against the alleged threat to demolish their shops for the controversial Kashi Vishwanath Temple Project in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 'mahant' (religious head) of the famous Kashi Vishwanth Temple Kulpati Tewari, who had been on a 'fast-unto-death' for the past several days after the administration served him a notice informing him about the plan to demolish his house, was hospitalised after his condition worsened on Thursday.

According to reports, the traders, who owned shops inside the 'Vishwanath Gali' (the lane leading to the temple), shut their shops and embarked on a 'dharna'. 

"The administration has been threatening to demolish our shops without making any alternative arrangement," said a trader. 

The 'mahant', who was against Modi's dream Project, also slammed the administration for its decision to demolish the houses and shops in the lane and said that the age old traditions were "under threat".

The project had been mired in controversy with a section of the priests, locals and traders vehemently opposing it. The objective of Rs 600 crore project is to clear the way to the temple from the Ghats of the Ganga so that the pilgrims could have an easy and direct access.

The 'mahant' of the famous Sankat Mochan Temple, as well as prominent Hindu seer Swami Avimukteshwarananda Sarswati, have opposed the Project saying that it was against the "ancient Hindu traditions and culture".

So far, over 250 houses have been demolished. Many displaced residents allege that several ancient temples were also demolished while razing the houses, a contention strongly denied by local officials.

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