For the last ten years since 2006, the highest court of the land has passed several orders on an issue to which state governments and union territory administrations have been turning a deaf year. It is about removing uuthorized constructions, particularly places of worship, from roads, pavements and public places. Now an exasperated Supreme Court has set a 2-week deadline to states and UTs to file affidavits detailing what steps they have taken to curb such constructions. Calling uuthorized religious structures ‘an insult to God’, the apex court has scolded laggard administrations that it is not the way of God to obstruct public paths. Surely any public spirited citizen will welcome the Supreme Court’s stand. It is a major nuisance that public spaces are brazenly encroached upon in the me of erecting religious structures. Land mafias and unsavory elements often manipulate local residents and organizations, using them as a front to grab land in this manner. Thus they mage to get control of public land and make money round the year through religious dotions. This is in addition to dotions collected or extorted during religious festivals. When people are willing to put up with roads rrowed or entirely blocked due to such celebrations running for days, they are but one step away from allowing charlatans to grab public land permanently. This is where the local administration should intervene to enforce rules, but it looks the other way. There seems to be an all-pervasive fear among the public as well as the administration — of treading upon ‘religious sensibilities’ of some group or the other. It is this same fear that makes people desist from protesting the noise and waste generated, dangerous fireworks and religious processions causing traffic srls during festivals. The Supreme Court has now warned states and UTs to be ready to face consequences if any new temple, mosque, church or such other place of worship is allowed to come up at public places. In a secular country, religion should be a private matter. No compromise with public order ought to be tolerated in the me of religion.
Food for thought