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UP: Temple will stay, move tracks, say Bajrang Dal and VHP activists

Over 20 activists sit on the porch at the Agra DRM’s office and chant 'Jai Sri Ram'
Representational image.
Representational image.

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow   |   Published 30.04.22, 04:19 AM

Activists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal on Friday held a dharna on the porch of the divisional railway manager’s office in Agra to protest a notice to shift a temple from a platform and demand that the tracks or the station be relocated instead.

The railways say the Ma Chamunda Devi temple on Platform No. 1 of Raja Ki Mandi station on Agra city’s fringes is an encroachment. Railway authorities have stressed that the shrine leaves only a sliver of platform between its boundary walls and the trains, endangering passenger safety in a station that handles rush-hour local trains.


On April 26 and 27, temple priest Visheswaranand Maharaj had visited railway officials in Agra with fellow sadhus and Hindutva activists and threatened a protest.

On Friday morning, over 20 activists from the VHP and the Bajrang Dal sat on the porch at the Agra DRM’s office and chanted “Jai Sri Ram”.

Anup Verma, convener of the Bajrang Dal in Agra district, said in the afternoon: “We handed a memorandum to the DRM saying the temple must not be removed from there. The railways can shift the tracks.”

Bijendranand Brahmachari, one of the priests of the temple, said: “The notice is an insult to the Hindu religion. We will never allow the railways to shift the temple. They can shift the station from here.”

Anand Swaroop, the Agra DRM who had on April 25 posted on Twitter a copy of the railway notice, iterated that there would be no option but to shift the station if the impasse was not resolved.

“It is a routine procedure to issue notices to those who have encroached on or captured railway land. We have served notices on some more temples and mausoleums in the division to vacate railway land,” he told reporters in his first-floor chamber.

“The state government and the temple management are supposed to reach a decision before further action is initiated. At the moment, there is status quo and we want to inform all stakeholders that the temple at the train station is located on our property. Passenger safety is foremost and we would be forced to close the station if we fail to solve the problem because we cannot wait for an incident to happen,” the DRM added.

Agra district magistrate Prabhu N. Singh said the administration was conducting a survey of the area.

Temple sources said the average monthly offerings in cash and kind totalled Rs 4 lakh. An official said the railways earned Rs 90 lakh per month by selling tickets at Raja Ki Mandi.

The notice pasted by the railways on the temple’s wall on April 12 and shared by DRM Swaroop on Twitter on Monday read: “Ma Chamunda Devi temple exists illegally at Platform No. 1 of Raja Ki Mandi railway station. This temple is located on the premises of the railways. The compound of the temple is 1,716sqm, which includes 72sqm of the building of the shrine…. It violates the Schedule of Dimensions of the Railways.

“Keeping in view the safety of the passengers, we have to get vacated the 72sqm of area on a priority basis. It creates obstacles for passengers when the trains enter the platform…. It is dangerous for their safety. The division has also received complaints from the public in this regard.”

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