The Aam Aadmi Party has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of being a primarily electoral Hindu party that targets Hindu temples once elections have concluded. The AAP’s assertions come in light of the reported demolition of an ancient temple in Mandawali, Delhi, on the orders of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
According to AAP Chief Spokesperson Ms Priyanka Kakkar, the LG’s aim is to see Delhi embroiled in unrest similar to Manipur. The demolition of the temple was carried out despite the then Deputy Chief Minister, Shri Manish Sisodia, refusing to sign the file seeking permission for the demolition. Despite the Dy CM’s opposition, the LG overruled him and granted authorisation for the temple’s demolition.
An alarming development highlighted by Ms Priyanka Kakkar is the shift in protocol observed by government officials in handling the demolition of religious structures. Officers no longer forward files pertaining to the demolition of any religious structure to the Delhi government but instead send them directly to the LG.
In a press conference held today, Ms Priyanka Kakkar, emphasised the need to acknowledge the evidence presented by former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Manish Sisodia in February this year, exposing the BJP’s plan to vandalise and destroy sacred Hindu sites. She shared the video of the press conference in which Shri Manish Sisodia exposed the nefarious plans of the Delhi LG to disrupt the social order and harmony in Delhi by ordering for demolition of revered temples in sensitive areas despite adverse police reports regarding the same.
During a press conference in February this year, Shri Manish Sisodia, former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, highlighted the rich history and significance of many Hindu temples that the Delhi LG had proposed to demolish, reiterating the recommendations of the Delhi Police that the potential demolition of these temples could be a recipe for disaster. These include the Shiv Shakti Mandir in Shivpuri, constructed in 1995, an old Shiva temple near the Mayapuri marble market, and the Vaishno Devi Temple at Maujpur Chowk. Shri Manish Sisodia also mentioned two Hanuman temples on Wazirabad Road, which have been standing for 40 and 90 years.
The former Deputy CM had said, “According to reports from the Delhi Police, these temples attract hundreds of devotees daily and hold great religious importance for them. Importantly, the police reports also underscored that any attempts to demolish these revered religious structures would likely be met with strong opposition from the local community. The police report clearly says that this could potentially lead to social unrest, particularly considering that some of these temples were situated in areas affected by religious riots in February 2020.”
Proceeding with the discussion, Ms Priyanka Kakkar said that the press conference in February by Shri Manish Sisodia provides compelling evidence of the BJP’s intentions and their disregard for the sanctity of these revered temples. It is crucial that we pay heed to these revelations and take necessary action to protect our religious heritage and social harmony.”
Explaining the sequence of events, Ms Priyanka Kakkar, shared that former deputy CM of Delhi Shri Manish Sisodia had expressed his refusal to sign the file seeking the demolition of “unauthorised religious structures” in the national capital. Shri Manish Sisodia sent back the said file to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) because the police reports stated that the proposed temple demolition could disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in these sensitive areas.
Criticising the Delhi LG for taking unilateral reckless decisions over such sensitive matters, AAP’s chief spokesperson said, “The LG of Delhi, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena has chosen to disregard the objects raised by former deputy CM Shri Manish Sisodia, the warnings of the Delhi police and the sentiments of the people of Delhi. He has not only approved the plan to demolish these temples but also asserted that the files concerning the demolition of temples or any religious place would bypass the Shri Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government and be directly handled by the Delhi LG. This decision was taken and duly notified by the Delhi LG.
Reflecting on the aftermath of Shri Manish Sisodia’s press conference, Ms Priyanka Kakkar lamented the recent demolitions of sacred temples. She highlighted the destruction of a 150-year-old Shiv temple on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, a 50-year-old Hanuman temple in Rajendra Nagar, an old Hanuman temple in Sarojini Nagar, and the Neelkanth temple in Sriniwaspuri. Furthermore, she called attention to the ongoing demolition of a temple in Mandawali, where allegedly BJP members and the BJP-controlled Delhi Police were involved.
Questioning the motives behind vandalising temples despite prior warnings, AAP’s chief spokesperson strongly condemned the BJP, labelling it as “an anti-Hindu party.” She also called out the BJP for being “a Hindu party only during elections” and accused it of targeting Hindu temples after they have fooled the Hindus out of their votes. She raised concerns about the BJP’s intentions and said, “The BJP and the Delhi LG seem to have targeted their efforts to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in Delhi. When will their attacks on temples and Hindus cease? They are hoping Delhi burns, just like the current situation in Manipur! We must question why the BJP engages in such actions and what they aim to achieve by spoiling the harmonious environment we cherish.”
Ms Priyanka Kakkar reiterated the recent instances of temple demolitions in Delhi, including the demolition of a 150-year-old Shiv temple on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, a 50-year-old Hanuman temple in Rajendra Nagar, and an ancient Hanuman temple in Sarojini Nagar. Additionally, the Neelkanth temple in Sriniwaspuri has also been targeted. She stated, “We witnessed today how the representatives of the BJP and the police were actively involved in the demolition of a temple in Mandawali. The BJP’s actions expose their anti-Hindu stance and their disregard for religious harmony.”
Expressing his concerns, AAP MLA Shri Kuldeep Kumar emphasised the continuous issuance of new orders and demolition lists by the LG of Delhi, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena, which has deeply hurt the religious sentiments and beliefs of the people. He questioned the LG’s intentions, stating, “Why is the Delhi LG playing with the religious sentiments of the people of Delhi and jeopardising the peace and harmony in Delhi by targeting ancient temples that hold deep significance for the community?”
Shri Kuldeep Kumar highlighted the large protests that erupted in Mandawali this morning when Delhi police and Delhi administration personnel arrived at a temple for demolition. He further questioned the consequences of demolishing these temples, citing the potential disruption to the peaceful environment and the concerns raised by Delhi Police in its reports. “We completely oppose the demolition of ancient temples in Delhi. The people are never going to forgive those who harm their faith and belief.”
Addressing the BJP, the AAP leader stated, “You (BJP) have the Delhi LG as well as the Delhi Police who work at your behest. Instead of playing gimmicks, the BJP should instruct the LG to respect the religious sentiments of Delhiites and pay heed to Delhi Government’s objections to these temple demolitions.”
AAP leaser Shri Nitin Tyagi urged journalists to investigate and expose the BJP’s strategies at demolition sites. He highlighted the close association between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG), as well as the presence of many BJP workers at the demolition sites. “The BJP has a strategic plan in motion. While the Delhi LG, controlled by the BJP-ruled Centre, is issuing orders for the demolition of temples at various locations, individuals affiliated with the BJP, Vishva Hindu Parishad, RSS, and Bajrang Dal are often the first to arrive at these sites. Individuals from these organisations try their best to create a religious fervour around the issue and disrupt the existing religious harmony in the area. They try to convince the protesting locals that it is MLAs or ministers from the Aam Aadmi Party that are responsible for these temple demolitions. Meanwhile, despite the direct orders from a BJP-affiliated Lieutenant Governor, no action is taken to halt these demolitions. This is BJP’s modus operandi to defame AAP amongst Delhi residents.”
Shri Nitin Tyagi emphasised that the demolition order clearly states, “The removal of the following unauthorised religious structures on PWD roads has been recommended for removal by the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Delhi on the recommendation of the Religious Committee of the Home Department.” While Shri Manish Sisodia has advocated for temple preservation and ensured careful handling of the related files, the Delhi LG recalled those files and insists on demolishing the revered temples despite reports by the Delhi Police advising against the same. This decision disregarded the religious sentiments of the people and focused solely on the unauthorised nature of the structures.