Post temple demolition, makeshift structure comes up in Chandni Chowk; mayor says done by 'devotees'

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (PTI) Nearly a month-and-a-half after a Hanuman temple in Delhi's Chandni Chowk was demolished by authorities, a 'makeshift structure' has come up at the site which, NDMC mayor Jai Prakash claimed, has been erected by 'devotees'.

The mayor, who performed a 'puja' at the site, said while the due process may not have been followed, devotees' 'astha' (faith) has to be respected.

The structure has come up on the central verge of the main Chandni Chowk road where the old Hanuman temple existed before it was demolished in January following a court order to pave the way for beautification work in the area.

Some locals claimed the makeshift steel temple was erected in the early hours of Friday and CCTV cameras in the area were switched off.

The Delhi government, whose Public Works Department (PWD) is carrying out the Chandni Chowk beautification project, said in a statement, 'We are examining the issue.' Police said they received information about the makeshift structure being erected in the area around 8 am on Friday.

After reaching the spot, police personnel inspected the temple and made inquires, they said.

The police personnel asked the priest and locals if permission for erecting the makeshift structure was taken from the government agency which owns the land and were told that they did it with the blessings of Lord Hanuman, they added.

To carry out any civil work in an authorised area, due permission is needed from concerned authorities.

Chandni Chowk, a historic area from the Mughal era, is a dense hub of traders and old havelis, and a prime tourist attraction in the national capital. It falls under the jurisdiction of the BJP-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).

NDMC mayor Prakash said, 'The makeshift structure has been erected by devotees of Ram ji and Hanuman ji. While the due process may not have been followed, we have to respect their 'astha'.' When the old temple was demolished, he said, the idol of Lord Hanuman was handed over to the priest at his request and it has been reinstalled.

Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, who also visited the makeshift temple, said the faith of thousands of people of this area is linked to the Hanuman temple.

'Now people will again start getting Lord Hanuman's blessings and the recital of 'Hanuman Chalisa' will also resume,' he said.

BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said, 'Chandni Chowk will be decked up tomorrow (Saturday) and a special 'Hanuman Chalisa' recital will be held at the temple,' he said.

Taking to Twitter, senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak said he will visit the temple on Saturday to pray for world peace.

Earlier in January, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP had blamed each other for the demolition of the temple.

The Chandni Chowk redevelopment project seeks to beautify the nearly 1.5-km stretch of the famous street from Red Fort traffic intersection to Fatehpuri Masjid with pedestrianisation norms for the ease of visitors.

It is being executed by the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation, led by the Delhi government in conjunction with other agencies including the Delhi Metro and the NDMC. PTI KND NIT VIT DIV DIV