Varanasi is not only one of the holiest places in India but is also the PM Constituency of Narendra Modi. If you have been to Varanasi, you will remember the Kashi Ghat area which is filled with numerous small lanes leading from the various Ghats of river Ganga, to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The small lanes have houses on both sides with people living there in joint families and almost every house is a business in itself. Either they have a small shop selling kachoris and jalebis or lassi or have a cheap dharamshala for the tourists. The main source of all these families are these small home-businesses thriving because of the proximity to the temple. The small bylanes with these small houses with a unique temple in every house is the identity of Varanasi.
But come a few years from now and this is going to change.
The Government has decided to make what is being called as the Kashi Corridor.
This is basically a project dedicated to making a direct 40 ft wide road from the Ganga Ghats directly to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The first phase is going to be a 400 meter long corridor estimated to cost around Rs. 600 Crores.
This also means bulldozing off whatever houses come in the way. As per the locals, the first phase includes demolition of around 400 houses …. 400 families. The families have been offered money and have been told to shift off elsewhere. Those who haven’t accepted it are being scared/threatened/coerced into doing so, if the residents are to be believed.
The demolition is already ON and here are the images –
And guess who has got the contract for this demolition or beautification, whichever you call it….. BEEEP …. Wrong … Its not Ambani … Its Sajjan Jindal.
Sajjan Jindal is the same businessman who was reported to have held a “secret” meeting with Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan, to facilitate a meeting with Modi and Nawaz in 2015. Of course the Government denied it then.
But while we are guessing, guess whose houses are being demolished? BEEEEPPPP…. Wrong again …. Its the Hindu houses which are being broken down. The Muslim settlement next to the Masjid, adjacent to the Kashi Vishawanath temple has remained untouched.
Now, while the Heritage Property owners claim this as a beautification of Varanasi and “getting rid of the congestion” the locals are saying that this is being done just to make it more convenient for the VVIPs to visit the temple and shuttle between the Ghats and the Shrine.
But, whichever way you look at it, one thing is for sure. The old spirit of Varanasi which resides in the narrow cobble stoned by lanes and the kachoris and lassis is definitely going to be lost. A broader cemented road hosting modern amnesties will be replacing it soon enough.
Disclaimer: That awkward moment when someone shouts “Mandir Wahi Banayenge” while his own house is being destroyed by the very people who vowed to protect them by saying “Hindu Khatre Mein Hai”
The post was first published by Darshan Mondkar on his Facebook Timeline.