VHP Members Vandalise Taj Mahal's Gate As It 'Blocks Way To A Temple'

Around 30 members of VHP on Sunday staged a protest near Taj Mahal's west gate and removed a 10x11 feet steel gate

While the several politicians want to do a redo of Taj Mahal’s naam-karan, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members tried to vandalise one of the gates of the Mughal era monument, claiming that it blocked the way to a 400-year-old Shiva temple.

Around 30 members of VHP on Sunday staged a protest near Taj Mahal’s west gate and removed a 10×11 feet steel gate, which was installed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The group claims that the installed structure was blocking the way to a 400-year-old Shiva temple.

“The gate being installed is blocking passage to Siddheshwar Mahadev temple at Basai Ghat alongside the western wall of Taj Mahal. The temple is 400 years old and has been in existence prior to Taj Mahal. So there is no logic in blocking passage to the temple. But ASI officials did not heed to our requests,” VHP Brij Prant Vishesh Sampark Pramukh Ravi Dubey told Hindustan Times.

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A video clip of the incident also showed VHP members attempting to dislodge the steel gates installed by ASI.

According to the police, there is an alternate route to the temple, however, members of the Hindu outfit did not back down. The protestors “threw” the gates 50 metres away from the location where they were installed. “On Sunday around 25-30 activists from the VHP came near the western gate of the Taj Mahal and started vandalizing the newly installed turnstile gate for ticket collection for Taj Mahal and Saheli ka Burj. The protesters had hammers and iron rods with them. They removed the gate and threw it some around 50 metres from there. Soon the Taj safety police team reached there and stopped them from vandalising more property,” Taj Safety circle officer (CO) Prabhat Kumar told The Indian Express.

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The ASI has now lodged a complaint against the protestors and an FIR was registered against five VHP members—Ravi Dubey, Madan Verma, Mohit Sharma, Niranjan Singh Rathore and Gulla—on Sunday. The other unidentified VHP members have also been charged with rioting, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, and under the section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act and section of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. However, no arrests have been made till now.

The historic Mughal era monument remains muddled in a controversy as several politicians in recent times have demanded renaming of the Taj Mahal. Earlier this week, BJP MLA Surendra Singh reiterated his demand to change the name of the monument to Ram or Krishna Mahal so as to give it an “Indian identity”.