Anti-encroachment drive at the Indore temple tragedy site. (Image: ANI)
Four days after the Indore temple tragedy that claimed 36 lives, the local administration on Monday morning launched a drive to remove encroachments from the religious complex and moved the idols of deities to another shrine.
The stepwell on which the structure was built was also closed forever by dumping debris into it, an Indore Municipal Corporation official said.
Thirty-six persons were killed on March 30 after the floor of , the Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal Temple in Patel Nagar, which was built in a public garden by laying a slab to cover a "bawdi" or stepwell, collapsed on Ram Navami, hurtling devotees several feet below.
On Monday, the encroachments at the temple were removed in the presence of a sizable number of police personnel, with roads leading to the place of worship being barricaded, an official said.
"We have removed all illegal constructions in the public garden in order to ensure the safety of citizens. The bawdi has been filled with debris so that no accident takes place," Indore Municipal Corporation additional commissioner Siddharth Jain told reporters.
A new temple that was being built beside the ill-fated one has also been demolished as there was a risk of landslide at the site following the March 30 incident, he said.
Action was taken to remove encroachments on 10,000 square feet of land around the Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal Temple complex, another civic official informed.
A temple priest present on the spot said prayers were offered to idols according to rituals and they were shifted to Kantafod temple.
Meanwhile, activists of some right-wing groups protested the anti-encroachment action at the temple and took out a procession in Sindhi Colony in the vicinity.
A local Vishwa Hindu Parishad functionary said the anti-encroachment action was illegal and was being done to hide the failure of the civic body to avert the tragedy.
Laxmikant Patel, who lost his wife, daughter-in-law and two other relatives in the tragedy, also condemned the action. He lives close by and along with his kin have been looking after the temple for years now.
After the tragedy last Thursday, an FIR was lodged against Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal Temple Trust president Sevaram Galani and secretary Murli Kumar Sabnani under Indian Penal Code Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Juni Indore police station in-charge Neeraj Meda said.
The two have been accused of carrying out unsafe work at the temple by getting the stepwell covered and also ignoring Indore Municipal Corporation directives to remove encroachments and illegal additions to the structure, as per police.
Both are yet to be arrested as Sabnani was injured in the incident and Galani is recuperating from an earlier accident, police said.
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