In the brave new India that’s emerging , it seems all sorts of Godmen are above the Law!
Coimbatore, Feb 24: Nearly 500 members of various outfits were arrested here today when they attempted to stage a demonstration against the unveiling of a 112-foot Adiyogi face at the Isha Yoga centre by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Several media reports have mentioned about the opposition to the ‘illegal construction activities’ of Isha Foundation and its resident ‘Godman’ Vashudev.
Some black balloons were also released into the air by a section of the protesters as Modi was travelling to the venue near here by a helicopter, police said.
A Times of India report earlier this month said: A public interest litigation petition in the Madras high court has challenged clearance for constructing a 112-foot Shiva statue in the Velliangiri Hills by Isha Foundation.
According to the president of the Velliangiri Hill Tribal Protection Society, the organisation was formed to conserve the natural resources of the hill, besides preventing encroachment.
The managing trustee of Isha Foundation, Coimbatore, had acquired land measuring 3.26 acre at Ikkarai Poluvampatti village. It had also acquired three acre of benami land in the village. According to the relevant Government Orders (GOs), the village was under the ambit of Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA).
However, Isha Foundation constructed foot Shiva without getting approval from various departments.
The PTI report puts a political spin saying: protesters raised slogans against Modi for his alleged failure in protecting farmers’ interests and for not taking action against the Isha Yoga for alleged encroachment of tribal land for construction of the face, police said.
During the protest held in front of a tehsildar office here, they also sought the Centre’s intervene to prevent construction of check dams across river Bhavani by Kerala.
Arond 500 workers of outfits including Dravidar Kazhagam, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, TMC, MDMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Revolutionary Youth Front, SDPI, and Federation of Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association, participated in the demonstration, police said adding all were arrested.
Police also arrested 17 others when they attempted to stage a demonstration against Modi’s visit near the airport.
The Wire reports:
Despite the notice issued by the state government, illegal construction went on unchecked inside the Isha Foundation. “The extent of illegal buildings and structures constructed there is about 1,25,000 square metres. Now, when the state government itself agrees that there were illegal constructions and its original locking and demolition notice still stands, it is unfortunate that not only the prime minister but also chief minister Edapadi Palanisami are going to take part in the Mahashivarathiri festival there”.
D. Hariparanthaman, a retired judge of the Madras high court said: “Inspite of the Tamil Nadu government’s own submission that there were illegal constructions, not a single building was demolished by the concerned authorities till this date. There are four writ petitions pending in the high court and it’s sad that the cases could not move an inch forward even after three years of their filing. The visit of the prime minister will send a wrong signal and award legitimacy to these illegally constructed buildings. Hence we request [him] not to visit Isha Foundation” said Hariparanthaman. He added that “the construction of huge illegal buildings will affect the flora and fauna of that area and also pollute the Noyyal river. The pollution of this river will have a cascading effect in the entire western region of Tamil Nadu”.
Apart from the Left parties and other organisations have also said that Modi should cancel his program. “Along with likeminded parties and other groups we will stage a massive demonstration when the prime minister arrives at Coimbatore. We will organise a massive black flag demonstration across Coimbatore to register our protest” says G. Ramakrishnan, state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Though the DMK is in opposition, its leaders have not so far spoken out on this issue.
However, the Isha Foundation is completely unperturbed. ”Well, this is a democratic country and everyone has a right to express his or her opinion. We have not indulged in any illegal activities. We have not encroached upon even an inch of land. The matter is sub judice and hence I cannot comment on the charges levelled by those who are opposing the prime minister’s visit. We have the peoples’ support and I don’t want to comment more than this” a senior official of Isha Foundation who asked not to be named told The Wire on Wednesday (Feb 22).