India

People from Lahauri Mohalla curse Modi, once a bustling locality vanishes from Varanasi map

Around 2500 staunch Modi supporters from Lahauri Mohalla which was founded by Sikh emperor Ranjit Singh, were forced to evict their house due to the Kashi Vishwanath corridor

Vishwadeepak

Krishna Kumar Sharma alias Munna Marwadi is a disillusioned man at the age of 60.

He had joined BJP’s parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the age of 20 and served the right-wing nationalist organisation for nearly four decades but he feels forsaken by the organisation now.

Sitting in an under-construction house in Manduadi, Varanasi, Munna recalls his association with the RSS and says, “I have given prime years of my life to the organisation but when my ancestral house was being bulldozed by the BJP government, they (RSS-BJP) just abandoned me.”

Munna, his three brothers and two sisters lived in his decades-old ancestral house in Lahauri Mohalla till a couple of months ago but he was forced to evict his house by the authorities.

His ancestral home was one of the 250 houses that were demolished to complete Kashi Vishwanath corridor – a project worth ₹600 crore undertaken by the BJP government with an aim of decongesting the area in and around Kashi Vishwanath by creating around 45,000 square metres of space.

As per official claims, an approximately 50-feet long corridor will directly connect Ganga’s Manikarnika and Lalita Ghat to Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

But people like Munna are not convinced with the official take.

People from Lahauri Mohalla curse Modi, once a bustling locality vanishes from Varanasi map
Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi

Blaming Prime Minister Modi for the loss of his house, property and most importantly his sense of belonging to this area, Munna says, “I never imagined that my house would be demolished by the BJP government with Modi’s consent.”

Calling Modi “a man suffering from an inferiority complex,” Munna who campaigned for the BJP in 2014 now says, “It was all done to please the builder lobby.”

He points out some BJP leaders. But when asked to name then, he however, keeps quiet.

Gazing at the ceiling, Munna whose hair are greying fast, cursed Modi, BJP and ‘his’ erstwhile organisation, the RSS in the same breath.

However, he believes, people do not protest or speak against the Modi government openly because they fear for their life.

People from Lahauri Mohalla curse Modi, once a bustling locality vanishes from Varanasi map

When asked about the compensation, Munna says, “You can pay compensation for the house but no government can compensate for the loss of relations.”

Decrying Modi government and the BJP for causing displacement and bringing destruction in Varanasi, Munna who filed a PIL seeking halt on the project told NH that the BJP government played a dirty trick to acquire the land.

“Alarmed by my PIL, Yogi government acquired our property in the name of the UP governor because Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act prohibits government and the temple management to buy property worth over ₹10000 in the area,” said Munna.

People from Lahauri Mohalla curse Modi, once a bustling locality vanishes from Varanasi map

“That is why BJP devised another route to acquire our property,” added Munna.

Like Munna, there are around 2500 people from Lahauri Mohalla who have been forced to evict their ancestral house because of Kashi Vishwanath corridor.

“Like me, most of them were staunch Modi supporters but this time all of us are planning to press NOTA,” said Munna, adding, “there are 500 votes under my influence. We all will press NOTA to mark our protest against demolition.”

Named after the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahauri Mohalla was established Maharaja Ranjit Singh - leader of the Sikh Empire in early half of the 19th century - to facilitate traders of his kingdom who came to Varanasi to their business.

Historical records suggest that while Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore rebuilt the temple in 1780, Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated gold plates in 1835.

“It is the second golden temple in India after Golden temple, Amritsar with gold spire and gold domes,” said aggrieved Munna adding, “Lahauri Mohalla once a bustling locality has vanished from the map of Varanasi…But it will remain in our memory forever.”

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Published: 14 May 2019, 9:20 AM