Eviction Drive Near Lingaraj Temple Suspended After Traders’ Protest

Bhubaneswar: The ongoing eviction near Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar was temporarily suspended by the authorities after local traders gheraoed Lingaraj Police station and staged a massive demonstration on Tuesday.

Hundreds of traders staged the demonstration as they alleged that the eviction drive was launched by the authorities without holding any talks or rehabilitation.

Though the administration claimed to have launched the eviction drive to ensure proper protection and conservation of the 12th century shrine, locals stated that they are not against the eviction, rather the authorities should take adequate steps for the traders’ rehabilitation.

Apart from the traders, BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty and Congress MLA Sura Routray, who joined today’s protest, also vouched for proper rehabilitation of the affected traders.

“We welcome the eviction drive undertaken by the government to secure the temple and enhance its beauty, but we strongly condemn the entire process by which it was carried out,” said Congress leader Sura Routray.

Routray further stated, “People were not given adequate time to vacate their shops. They should be rehabilitated first before authorities evict them and their business.”

A trader alleged that the administrative officials demolished his small shop without any prior notice. “I am a poor woman with two children and my husband is also sick. I should be compensated for this,” she added.

State BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty said, “I am very upset with the process adopted by the administration to evict the traders. There is an association of the traders and the officials should have held talks with them first before carrying out such drive.”

“The government is yet to reveal the proposed beautification and modernisation plan. Don’t the locals and traders have the right to know the future development plans of their area,” questioned Mohanty.

Meanwhile, the situation was brought to control after senior administrative officials including Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) additional commissioner and Khurda ADM held discussion with the agitators.

Khurda ADM, A.K Behera said, “The eviction drive has been suspended for today. A meeting will be held under the chairmanship of BMC Commissioner and a 10-member delegation of the local traders will put forth their demands. Subsequently, the next course of action will be finalised.”