Religion is something very personal and the moment it comes into the public sphere it creates chaos. India has a history of terrible outcomes of religion entering the public life.
Though we realize it a personal matter, we nevertheless recognize the need for public places of worship. However, do we need small domes, either temples or mosques, literally on the roads, amidst the ever moving traffic?
UdaipurTimes.com covered an article by Harshit Agrawal on October 15, stating how these religious structures stand for the policy of Sustainable Development adopted by our government, wherein developmental and religious beliefs go hand in hand.
Few concerned readers commented how these structures caused a threat to the safety of people and that the government needs to find other better alternatives to accommodate development with our beliefs.
The recent order by the Rajasthan High Court aims to do just the same. Rajasthan High Court asked the state government to come up with an action plan within a month to remove such religious places which occupy the public land.
Apart from the safety reasons, these structures though religious are illegal nonetheless.
These religious structures provide an opportunity to play it safe and encroach public land, simply because religion has always been a sensitive issue in our country.
In the state of Rajasthan alone, nearly 58,000 such illegal places of worship have been identified by the government. A bench comprising acting Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice M Rafiq passed the order on a suo motu PIL taking cognizance of such encroachments.
The UdaipurTimes.com article began by signifying the importance of ‘Dewras’ within farmlands and the underlying faith. Now though these farmlands have been converted into roads and other commercial constructions the temples are kept intact.
This recent High Court order, seconds this faith and belief of the masses but is at the same time equally concerned about safety and fair development. Thus these structures will not be demolished but will rather be repositioned at better and strategic locations within the same vicinity.
Respecting the devotion of the people, Justice Mishra said: “We appreciate the religious feelings and sentiments associated with places of worship but still God and Godesses too will feel bad sitting on a roadside or a nullah. Temples are not like thadis’ and thelaas’ (roadside pull carts) that can be installed any where. We cannot allow encroachments in the name of temples.”
Justice Mishra, issued an advisory to the advocate general of the state related to the stringent order stating: “Either the government must itself take a decision to dismantle these encroachments in the name of temples else the court will not hesitate in ordering to dismantle all such temples. Once the process will start, the encroachers will themselves start removing these temples. Provide us the details of such illegal temples district wise, including Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur.”
The bench also referred to similar directives of Madhya Pradesh High Court regarding 150 such structures there. The government has also decided to regularize those temples and mosques that are not causing any traffic hazard. Also henceforth, the master plan of the town as well as in all the upcoming colonies, places for worship shall also be earmarked, besides woodland and public utilities in order to regulate illegal constructions of such places of worship on public land.
Instead of looking at this order as being against our traditional beliefs, we should rather look at it as an effort to develop the roadways and highways of the nation in lines with international standards, keeping the religious instinct alive, nevertheless.