Hindus and Muslims in Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh have transcended communal barriers to help the local administration in relocating some religious structures which had held up building of a flyover for 14 long years.
In all, two temples, seven mazaars (tombs) and a mosque have been relocated, while a portion of a boundary wall of a dargah (the grave of a revered religious figure) was removed to facilitate construction of the flyover.
Superintendent of Police, Jalaun, Aravind Chaturvedi, told news agency PTI today, "On the Kanpur-Jhansi National Highway, the stretch between 242-km landmark and 244-km landmark is called Kalpi Khand. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had to construct a 1.5 km long flyover for smooth movement of traffic".
"But the NHAI faced a grave problem when it had to lay a service road (almost 5.5 metres wide on either side of the flyover) before they commenced the main construction in Jalaun, 220 kms from the state capital Lucknow" he said.
"It was on one of these stretches of service road (from Kanpur to Jalaun) that there were two temples, seven mazaars and one mosque, leading to the problem which existed for almost 14 years," the senior police officer said.
The current district administration and police machinery held a number of rounds of meetings with the stakeholders --both Hindus and Muslims. "It was then agreed by all that for development, these religious structures have to be relocated. The task was undertaken on September 8," he said.
"A Shiva temple has been relocated, while the sanctum sanctorum of a Durga temple will be shifted along with the idol as soon as the new temple is ready. The area where the new temple will come up has also been identified," he said.
"Apart from this, seven mazaars have been relocated. One mosque was also relocated," the police officer said, adding that the entire work was done under "Operation Sahyog".
It was also agreed upon that a very old mazaar, which falls outside the ambit of the service road, should remain intact.
Currently, the NHAI is doing some beautification work of the Durga temple and the centuries-old mazaar, the police officer said.
When contacted, District Magistrate of Jalaun, Mannan Akhtar, told news agency PTI, "The shifting of the religious structures located on the Kanpur-Jhansi National Highway was undertaken on September 8 and completed that day itself. There was cooperation by majority of the people."
"Till now the Kanpur-Jhansi National highway was virtually single-lane for the past 14 years," the district magistrate said.
Mr Akhtar said the dialogue process with all stakeholders took almost 5-6 months and a number of meetings and back channel talks were held with them to resolve the matter amicably.
"We made everyone agree on this," he said.
The Superintendent of Police said that in the past 5-6 years, more than 100 persons, mostly school-going children, have lost their lives in accidents, which had occurred on this stretch of highway.