Saturday, August 11, 2012

ISKCON vs Congress MLA over land row

Labour minister Danam Nagender locked the gate of the temple with the devotees and priests inside after the temple management refused to heed his warnings against occupying the lands of locals

Deccan Chronicle: Labour minister Danam Nagender and his supporters were booked for breaching peace and assaulting police personnel on Thursday after they locked the gate of an Iskcon temple at Banjara Hills Road No. 12.
According to sources, Mr Nagender had gone to the temple on Thursday morning as locals had complained that members of the Hare Krishna Movement were trying to occupy their lands under the guise of temple construction. As the temple management refused to heed the minister’s warnings, he locked the gate with the devotees and priests inside. When the police tried to settle the issue, the minister allegedly threatened them and asked them to leave the premises.
“The minister had pushed sub-inspector B. Ramesh and threatened him that he would beat him up if the police tried to stop him,” said inspector Chandrasekhar Goud. A case was booked against the minister and his followers under Indian Penal Code Sections 353 (Assault or using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) 143 (Unlawful assembly) 427 (Causing damage) 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (Criminal intimidation) and 342 (Wrongful confinement read with 34).
 Speaking to this newspaper, labour minister Danam Nagender pointed out that he had gone to the Iskcon temple on behalf of locals as there had been tension over Krishnastami celebrations on the premises on Tuesday as well. He added that he had not threatened anyone.
On Tuesday afternoon, a mob of around 40 people, mainly locals, had allegedly ransacked the same temple and the Banjara Hills police had booked cases against the mob the same day. “When I visited the temple this morning, I saw that the police was not allowing devotees to enter the temple following Tuesday’s incident. Being a public representative, I stood up for my people and requested that the matter be settled amicably. However, the SI who was on duty acted irresponsibly and refused to answer me,” said the minister.
The organisers of the Hare Krishna movement said that the endowments department had given the four-acre land adjacent to the Narasimhaswamy temple to Iskcon in 2009 and that they were developing the temple and building a kalyan mandap on the premises. However, locals have been opposing the developments for the last year as they were told that they would be evicted from the land. “Why should they (the Hare Krishna movement) set up structures on the land while locals who have been worshipping there are opposing it?” the minister said.
The booking of a criminal case against labour minister Danam Nagender for his involvement in an argument with the police and staff of the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Banjara Hills on Thursday has now led to a tiff between him and home minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy.
Mr Nagender said that he expected her support as a colleague when he, “a responsible public representative”, was fighting on behalf of the people, and a case was booked against him, putting him in trouble. “Is it not her responsibility to act on this?”
Defending his actions on Thursday, when he locked up the main gate of the temple and allegedly abused the SI on duty, he said he had only interfered when they tried to raise permanent structures on the premises.
Banjara Hills police said that so far, two cases were booked regarding the incidents at the temple; one was against the minister, the other against his followers, for committing vandalism two days ago.
Ms Sabita Reddy said that she had asked police commissioner Anurag Sharma to submit a report and that she had given directions only regarding the law and order issue, not the land issue.
Two days ago, Hare Krishna movement officials had come to her, seeking security, she said, adding that Mr Nagender “is part of our family and like my brother.”
Mr Nagender, who met Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy late on Friday, claimed that the CM had given him moral support.
and expressed displeasure over the booking of the case against him. He also requested the CM to cancel the lease to the Hare Krishna movement.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao came out in support of Mr Nagender while the Telangana Advocates' Association visited Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum, seeking his ouster from the Cabinet.
The Bajrang Dal, VHP and other organisations were not supportive of Mr Nagender's behaviour at the temple.

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