The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Temple tussle

Phansidewa (Indo-Bangla border), Jan. 23: The Thursday haat at the border hamlet of Phansidewa had only one topic of discussion, besides business: the letter handed over by a Bangladesh Rifle jawan last week, asking the villagers to demolish the annexe to an old Shiva temple that stands near the zero line.

Almost a week after receiving alleged threats from the BDR, the residents are still waiting for the BSF’s nod to complete a temple dedicated to Radha Gobinda, an addition to the Shiva temple.

On January 17, a BDR jawan and a Bangladeshi villager had reached Purana Bazaar village, where the temple is located, and handed over a letter to a temple committee member. “The letter asked us to stop further construction of the Radha Gobinda temple and demolish whatever has been built. We have submitted the letter to the local BSF outpost. We will resume construction once they give the go-ahead,” said Sukumar Chatterjee, a member of the temple committee.

The temple stands 150 yards from the international border on the banks of the Mahananda. According to an agreement, no permanent structure can be built within 150 yards of the zero point.

However, apart from the temple, around 350 pucca houses have been erected within the 150-yard mark.

BSF inspector-general (North Frontier) Rajinder Thakur said he was not aware of any such letter. “The BDR has not communicated with us on the issue. If they accept our proposal (to complete the half-built houses on the stretch), we will let the temple authorities complete construction. But they will not be allowed to start any new construction after that,” he said.

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