Sarva Seva Sangh, a Gandhian organisation whose twelve buildings were demolished by the Varanasi administration in an anti-encroachment drive last month, will start a month-long ‘Virasat Bachao Nyay Yatra’ in Varanasi asking the State government to apologise for the demolition.
Gandhian activists from across the country will participate in the yatra, set to commence from Vinoba Bhave’s birth anniversary on September 11 and going up to Jayaprakash Narayan’s birth anniversary on October 11. One of the questions that the organisation intends to pose to the government is whether it considers leaders like J.P. and Vinoba Bhave to have committed fraud by taking land and establishing the institute in Varanasi in the 1960s.
“We will start the foot march in Varanasi on Vinoba Bhave’s birth anniversary dated September 11 and will end on October 11, JP’s birth anniversary. It is named as ‘Virasat Bachao Nyay Yatra’, as the government by taking the step of demolishing the buildings, declaring our land papers as illegal in a direct way said that icons like Vinoba ji and JP ji committed a fraud. We demand an apology,” said Ram Dhiraj, coordinator of the Sarva Seva Sangh.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Dheeraj added that the government is planning to build a large hotel on the land and the organisation moved the High Court to stop the government’s move. “The court issued notice to the government over our petition,” added Mr. Dheeraj.
The district administration in Varanasi on August 12 carried out demolition of 12 buildings spanning across an area of 12.8 acres, which housed a library, guest house, khadi store, and meeting hall apart from the Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan office and has over the decades popularised the thoughts of Gandhi and his followers including Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan.
Behind the demolition action is the Railways’ claim on the land. The demolition follows a long legal battle between the Sarva Seva Sangh and the Railways, with the former moving the Allahabad High Court, and later the Supreme Court, seeking stay from demolition but failing to get relief.