A multicoloured tarpaulin for cover and a few scattered idols are all that remain of a temple “demolished” at Sector Beta-1, a posh address in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida.
Since its demolition by local authorities on July 19, angry locals have been taking turns to maintain vigil at the temple run by Shri Ram Janaki Trust.
On Sunday, braving oppressive heat, a group of women kept a watch over the “desecrated” idols.
The rubble from the demolition is yet to be removed, but that has not stopped devotees from performing rituals. There are flowers and incense, packets of milk and ‘prasad’ at the makeshift temple where idols have been stacked together on stones.
Tempers run high when the demolition is discussed and communal undertones that creep into the conversation are hard to ignore. “The temple was razed on baseless grounds by the local authorities who acted in connivance with vested interests. We have already paid five per cent of the land price to the administration; so, to say that the temple was built on grabbed land is absolutely baseless,” says Sushila Gadojia, member of Shri Ram Janaki Trust.
The residents are livid that the suspended sub-divisional magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, Durga Shakti Nagpal, is being held responsible for the demolition. “She was not even here. It was the Greater Noida authorities who came at 9 a.m. and without notice razed the temple and loaded the idols on to trucks meant to carry refuse. We had to put up a fight to reclaim the idols,” said Anil Sharma, a resident.
They allege that no notice has been issued by the administration, and the residents learnt of the demolition only when they saw a posse of policemen and women descend on the site.