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Politics of 'hate, divisiveness' in posh Delhi sub-city, Dwarka, 'polarize' residents

Counterview Desk

In a suprise move, around 100 residents* of a huge posh Delhi locality, Dwarka, have objected to what they call "communal contents of the letter" written by a "small group", the All Dwarka Residents Federation (ADRF), to the lieutenant governor of Delhi protesting against a Haj House on government land. The land was allocated in 2008.
Claiming that "ADRF does not represent all residents Dwarka", in a statement, they said, the aim of the move tIt is to "foment trouble and incite hatred by provoking public disorder", insisting, Dwarka, being one of the most well planned sub-cities, will not see any congestion as a result of the Haj House, as not more than 2,000 people will be present at a time during the peak period.
The statement insisted, "The apprehension conveyed in the letter about brotherhood, harmony, peace, law and order being disturbed and possibility of riots, migration of Hindus clearly indicates the political agenda of the members of ADRF. The letter is highly objectionable and it denigrates Muslims."

Text:

We, the undersigned, residents of Dwarka, New Delhi strongly disagree with the letter written by All Dwarka Residents Federation (ADRF) to the Lieutenant Governor Delhi regarding Haj House land, which was allotted in 2008 in sector 22 for building a Haj House. We condemn the highly communal contents of the letter and assert that ADRF does not represent all residents Dwarka as claimed by them. It is a small group out to foment trouble and incite hatred by provoking public disorder.
The letter addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and protests organized by ADRF & Hindu Shakti Sangathan demand cancellation of DDA land allotment for Haj House in sector 22, Dwarka and raise the following issues:
a. Why such facilities are provided only to Muslims and there is no such facility for Hindu pilgrims?
b. During the protests organized by ADRF & Hindu Shakti Sangathan, slogans were raised: ‘ek hi nara ek hi naam , jai shriram, jai shriram’ & ‘yeh bhoomi hamari hai, iska faisla hum karenge’.
c. Our taxes cannot be used for Muslims.
d. The president of the Federation Ajit Swami told Indian express, “Around 15 lakh people live in Dwarka, if the Haj House is built, buses will come from Mewat, which will cause traffic jams."
e. There is strong apprehension that brotherhood, harmony and peace in society apart from law and order will be disturbed. There will be every possibility of riots, migration of Hindus and repetition of situations like Shaheen Bagh, Jaffrabad and Kashmir.
The actual facts are as under:
a. It is only Muslims who go for Haj, therefore there cannot be a Haj House for Hindus. However there are numerous festivals of Hindus and other religious groups on which both centre and state governments spend substantially large sums of money every year and dedicate public resources to.
b. Indian government spends huge amount of money on various Hindu religious festivals, pilgrimages and this is not done only once but every year or periodically. Chief among these are the four Kumbh Melas, held in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. Millions of people attend each fair. To ensure that they go off smoothly, Central funds are routed through state governments to pay for construction on the mela grounds, facilities for pilgrims and security. In 2014, for instance, the Centre spent about Rs 1,150 crore and the Uttar Pradesh government allocated Rs 11 crore on the Allahabad Kumbh. In 2015, the Union culture ministry also set aside Rs 100 crore to be granted to the Madhya Pradesh for the Simhastha Mahakumbh, which is held in once in 12 years in Ujjain. The state government had already spent Rs 3,400 crore on the event.
c. Other pilgrimages attracting Central funds include the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. The yatra is organised by the government, which spends money on security and health facilities for the pilgrims.
d. Several states have explicit subsidies earmarked for various pilgrimages or religious events. The Madhya Pradesh government subsidizes a range of pilgrimages for senior citizens and their attendants under the Mukhyamantri Tirtha Darshan Yojana, including visits to Ayodhya, Mathura, the birthplace of Sant Kabir and St Thomas Church in Kerala. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Amarnath Shrine Board was set up by an act passed by the state assembly in 2000. Headed by the governor, who is aided by senior civil servants from the national and state administrative services, the board is responsible for “developmental activities” on the shrine and its environs, the “payment of suitable emoluments to the salaried staff”, constructing accommodation for pilgrims and other allied activities. Under Akhilesh Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh government began giving a grant of Rs 50,000 to pilgrims from the state to undertake the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, China. Under Yogi Adityanath, this has been raised to Rs 1 lakh. Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand provide subsidy to pilgrims going on the Manasarovar yatra to cover a part of the expenses, which amount to about Rs 1.5 lakh each. The Adityanath government also grants a Rs 10,000 subsidy to every pilgrim from the state going on the Sindhu Darshan in Ladakh, J&K.
e. Public funds raised by central and state governments through direct and indirect taxes are contributed by Muslims too. The money collected through taxes cannot be used only for one community. All communities including Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Christians & others have a right on the public money.
f. Pilgrimages in India involve mass movements of people, tremendous pressures on the site of the event and security concerns. Given the circumstances, several government agencies especially security agencies are involved in the whole process.
g. Dwarka is Asia’s largest sub-city. Situated in south west part of New Delhi. It is one of most populated sub-cities and has sprawling buildings with the whole city divided in well planned sectors, which are sub-divided into pockets. It is a very well connected with buses arriving from all over Delhi, Metro, Flyovers and well constructed roads, it is easily accessible to everyone. It has a large number of residential societies and Dwarka’s population is estimated to be 15 lakhs.
h. Dwarka is a true representative of the national multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious coexistence in almost all its forms. The inhabitants represent all regions of the country and various ethnic, religious, castes groups reside here. Over the years it has generously welcomed citizens from various economic layers, who live here in peace and harmony. Citizens from east, west, north, south and central India have made this part of the city their home. Retired government officers, teachers, students, poets, musicians, artists, officers of the armed forces, managers of the corporate sector, shop owners, technicians, farmers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, etc., in short people, almost all sections of society live here and support each other. Modernity, which respects and celebrates diversity of thought and living style, is the mainstay of its cultural ethos.
i. The discovery of Dwarka Baoli (also known as Loharehri Baoli), a historical stepwell, a few years ago has established that part of Dwarka now stands where Loharehri village stood once and the rest was built where pappankalan was situated. The baoli was constructed for the residents of Loharehri village by the Sultans of the Lodi Dynasty in the early 16th century. Dwarka does not belong to only one community but to everyone irrespective of their religion, caste or gender.
j. Dwarka is approved to be the second Diplomatic Enclave for 39 countries on 34 hectares, and 89.72 hectares of land has reserved for an Exhibition-cum Convention centre. The Election Commission of India has established India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management campus in Dwarka. The National Highways Authority of India headquarters, an autonomous agency of the Government of India, set up in 1988 is located in Dwarka.
k. The government has planned to construct an exclusive Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT). Dwarka ISBT will serve as a major transport hub for residents of Delhi and neighboring states. It will be well connected with the Sector 21 Metro Station for passengers to reach different parts of Delhi without any hassle. ISBT is expected to cater to over 2 lakh commuters daily and the plan is to have all inter-state buses from Haryana and Rajasthan to terminate here itself.
l. A Mini ISBT is also in the pipeline in sector 21, which will only cater to passengers travelling to IGI Airport. This mini ISBT will be situated right opposite the Dwarka Sector 21 Metro Station and will mostly cater to passengers coming in buses from Punjab, who might have international flights to catch. Also, tourists coming to Delhi tend to take a further bus journey to places like Agra and Jaipur. This newbie will accommodate 100 buses. Mini ISBT is expected to have a footfall of 15,000-20,000 passengers daily.
m. Average all India number of Haj pilgrims is 1,46,000, out of which 20,000-25,000 go for Haj from the International Airport, located in Delhi. These include residents from Delhi and nearby States. On an average the footfall of relatives who come to see off and the Haj pilgrims is not more than 2,000 per day for a period of 15-20. They are expected to stay at the Haj House, if built.
n. It is convoluted logic that ISBT with an expected footfall of 2 lakh per day round the year won’t hinder the traffic but 1500- 2000 Haj pilgrims per day for 15-20 days will create traffic problems.
o. Haj houses in various cities are used for community education and development work when pilgrims are not using them.
e. The apprehension conveyed in the letter about brotherhood, harmony, peace, law and order being disturbed and possibility of riots, migration of Hindus clearly indicates the political agenda of the members of ADRF. The letter is highly objectionable and it denigrates Muslims and is spreading hatred against them. We demand that the local police authorities take suo-moto cognizance of this and file a case on the signatories for spreading hatred with the intent to cause public disorder and disharmony, as well as create ill-will between different religious groups.
We appeal to the citizens of Dwarka to defeat the nefarious designs of ADRF to polarize the people in Dwarka and reject this politics of hate and divisiveness. We believe that people of all religions have a right to live in Dwarka and it is governments’ responsibility to ensure their security and safety as well as safeguard their constitutional rights.
---
*This statement, released on behalf of Dwarka residents, has been converted into an open letter to be sent to the Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, on Monday. Click here to endorse by August 15, 8 pm 

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