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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Gandhians seek PM Modi's time to discuss demolition-threatened Sarva Sewa Sangh branch

A dharna is being held by over 100 Gandhians — most of them elderly — at the gate of the Sarva Sewa Sangh, located in the Rajghat area of Varanasi along the Ganga

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 07.07.23, 06:17 AM
Narendra Modi.

Narendra Modi. File picture

Over 100 Gandhians from across the country have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give them time during his Varanasi visit on Friday to discuss the fate of the demolition-threatened local branch of the Sarva Sewa Sangh, an institute that propagates Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology.

"The district magistrate (S. Rajalingam) has violated his jurisdiction and passed an order that the land of the Sarva Sewa Sangh in the city (Varanasi) belongs to the railways," Chandan Pal, president of the Sarva Sewa Sangh, Sewagram, Wardha, has said in a letter addressed to Modi.

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"The railways, on the basis of this order, plastered notices on the buildings of the institute on June 27, 2023, (saying) they would be demolished. A delegation wants to meet you (Modi) on behalf of the SSS to present (the) facts before you… so that the legacy of Gandhi could be protected."

On Thursday, Pal told reporters: “We gave this letter to the divisional commissioner of Varanasi (Kaushal Raj Sharma) to fix us an appointment with Modi.”

Pal has been in Varanasi for the past one week, participating in a dharna by over 100 Gandhians — most of them elderly — at the gate of the Sarva Sewa Sangh, located in the Rajghat area along the Ganga. All the participants have signed the letter.

"The (branch) was established in Varanasi on land purchased from the railways at the request of Vinoba Bhave and with the formal approval of the then President of India, Rajendra Prasad,” Pal told reporters on Thursday. "We have all the documents.”

Asha Bothra, a member of the Sangh’s working committee and a resident of the Sewa Gram Ashram, Wardha, said: “The BJP government wants to demolish all the symbols of Gandhi and establish (the doctrines of) V.D. Savarkar, whose ideology killed the Mahatma.”

She added: “Modi must behave as Prime Minister of the country and not of one party. He must meet us and listen to our side of the matter.”

Police and officials of the Uttar Pradesh government had allegedly barged into the Sangh’s compound on May 15 and locked the doors of the Gandhi Vidya Sansthan, an institute founded by Jayaprakash Narayan in 1962 to impart lessons on Gandhian philosophy.

Abhijit Dixit, regional director of the Union culture ministry-run Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, has told reporters the government has transferred the Sansthan to the IGNCA “to develop a library to encourage research on the Gandhian ideology”.

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