Srinagar: At a time when footpaths and public pavements across the Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in busy commercial areas, have shrunk in width due to construction of kiosks and installation of religious statues, just outside the Chief Ministers residence at Residency Road Shaheedi Chowk, vested interests allegedly in connivance with the men in unifom have occupied public pavement and have started constructing a Hindu temple there, a move resented by civil society and general public in the town.
Besides the entrance for the official residence of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, there are two more entrances on the public pavement that lead to the Church and the quarter of Justice Hasnain Masoodi. Some five months before, a group of people from BJP and Hindu Vishwa Parishad started assembling around a peepal tree, located at one side of the pavement. These people simply cover the peepal tree with empty grain bags and later on started worshiping it, an Advocate wishing anonymity told CNS.
The irony is that Jammu Municipal Corporation and police administration did not act at all when the same group of people started fence this pavement depriving common people from the right to use it. The statues of Hindu lords were brought in and placed on the pavement around the peepal tree. All this was done under the nose of Chief Minister and the area police chief acted as a mute spectator.
Reports said that this is not the lone case in Jammu. A trader said that wherever the bigots see peepal tree, they encroach the land around it and built a temple and every time the government sleeps over the issue of public inconvenience. You will see at number of places religious statues erected in the middle of the road and some on the pavements, riverbanks, outside shops and parking lots, despite the fact court has banned the practice, he said.
In a recent order that was welcomed by civic bodies the Supreme Court banned fresh encroachment of roads, pavements and sideways by construction of religious structures or installation of statues of religious or public figures.
Commissioner Jammu Municipal Corporation Sujaniya Sharma admitted that public pavement has been encroached in the name of religion. He told CNS that illegal structure will be demolished with the help of Jammu police. When asked how JMC allowed all this, he said it was his predecessor who did not stop these people. I assure all that public pavement will be cleared within days, Sharma said.
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