TN: Madras HC Stays Art Of Living’s Event At Heritage Site After Protests
The Logical Indian Crew Tamil Nadu
December 8th, 2018 / 10:44 PM
Image Credits: New Indian Express
After the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court received a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), asking it to ensure that Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living Foundation (AOL) event is cancelled, the bench stayed the event. The event was shifted to a private hall near Thanjavur temple and participants had to pay a fee.
In the PIL filed by a Charted Accountant, it was written “It is respectfully submitted that the said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji has conducted a meeting on the bank of Yamuna river in 2016 and the Honourable National Green Tribunal heavily came on the organisers of the meeting and imposed Rs 5 crore fine and still the litigations are pending before the court.” He further argued that it was his duty to save the century-old structure as it has been there since time immemorial, reported News18.
On Friday, December 7, the UNESCO world heritage site saw more than 30 members of the Tamil Desiya Padhakaapu Yekkam gathered outside it to protest against a private two-day event that was to be held by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living Foundation (AOL). The people gathered outside Thanjavur district’s Brihadisvara temple in an attempt to oppose permission given to conduct the event.
Protests at the site
AOL’s two-day ‘meditation camp’, which has received permission from the HR&CE and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), was to begin on Friday and expected to see 800 people attending the discourse on Kashmiri Shaivism. Soon after journalist Ar Meyyammai saw a temporary pandal put up at the temple and posted pictures of it on social media, the agitation and opposition for the event began on Thursday.
The News Minute was told by sources in the temple that setting up a pandal that disrupts the path that devotees take to the temple is disrespectful towards the place of worship. It is also argued in the PIL filed, that a temple’s sanctity is affected if such an event is allowed to be held in its land.
District police said that it has deployed adequate security in the area, while protesters who are against temple lands being used for such purposes began gathering around 11 AM. However, it is alleged by the AOL Foundation that this agitation might be politically motivated, and is still ready to begin the event.
“Sri Sri Ravishankar is apolitical but he is linked to the BJP for no reason. These protests seem to be a targeted campaign with political viewpoints in mind. This is just a perception issue,” says Raji Swaminathan, Media coordinator, Tamil Nadu. She further said that the temple land has been used for private use earlier as well, and they now have adequate permission to go ahead with it.
AOL Yamuna Bank issue
This, however, is not the first time that AOL Foundation has been slammed for its actions. In March 2016, a three-day World Culture Festival was organised on Delhi’s Yamuna floodplains by the AOL Foundation.
In a report, an expert committee set up by the government had said that during the event, the riverbed was not just damaged but “completely destroyed”, according to a report by The Economic Times.
Although the foundation was allowed to go ahead with its event by the National Green Tribunal, it had been asked to pay Rs 5 crore because of the damage it caused to the environment, as interim government compensation.
Written by : Sumanti Sen
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi