Vrindavan, 2017.03.16 (VT): The idea of a merger of Vrindavan and Mathura, which had been on the back burner for over a decade, has again come up. A degree of urgency was injected when the UP government assured that both Ayodhya-Faizabad and Vrindavan-Mathura would be upgraded to full municipal corporations.
Vrindavan residents are opposing the move to merge Mathura and Vrindavan’s civic bodies to create a new municipal corporation. On Sunday, several Brajwasis, saints, activists, local politicians and priests attended a meeting organized by the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance at Shri Rangnath ji’s “Bare Bagicha” to protest against this proposal.
Since the new government took over in Lucknow, BJP leaders from Mathura have been lobbying in favor of the merger. Speakers at the BVHA meeting suspected that this move was motivated by the lobbies of construction companies and colonizers who want to make an urban jungle out of this essentially religious and cultural hub.
“We have been demanding “heritage town” status for Vrindavan, for the sake of its special features, which are in dire need of recognition and conservation. Already the Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority (MVDA) has done enough damage to the ecology and the pristine ambience of Vrindavan by letting land sharks gobble up all the green space, which was the distinguishing feature of the playground of the Lord Krishna,” said Sadhvi Rakesh.
“The identity of the two cities is completely separate from each other. The Gopis never left Braj-Vrindavan, which had a dozen dense forests around it, and through which the Yamuna flowed. The Vrindavan vasis (residents) will face a serious identity crisis if the two cities are amalgamated,” said Acharya Naresh Narayan, the National Convener of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance.
Shri Tamal Krishna Das Brahmachari from Imli Tala Mahaprabhu Mandir said, “It is important to preserve the unique identity of Vrindavan to promote Braj culture and the religious beliefs of countless devotees coming from around the world. The small villages and forests of the Braja Chaurasi Kos Yatra are the beauty of Braj-Vrindavan, where some glimpses of wooded land can still be seen.”
Activist Madhumangal Shukla said, “Even the British Government and the Mughals paid respect to the dignity of Vrindavan. The British Government formed the Vrindavan Municipality in 1866, and prior to that the Mughal Emperor Akbar created the city of Vrindavan by merging three villages of Dhaulera, Rajpura and Dusayaj. Had they wanted, they could have avoided giving an official identity to Vrindavan. They could have left Vrindavan as one of the suburbs of Mathura.”
Shri Raghav Bharadwaj, General Secretary of the BJP’s Vrindavan unit said, “There should be a complete ban on high rise buildings in Vrindavan. If Vrindavan becomes a part of Mathura Nagar Nigam, then the laws governing the other places of the proposed Nagar Nigam will also be applied in Vrindavan.” For example, the sale of meat and alcohol is legal in Mathura but not in Vrindavan. That could change instantly, should the two municipalities be merged.
Swami Sushilananda suggested that the municipalities of Vrindavan, Goverdhan, Varsana and Gokul be brought under one Shrine Board with regulatory powers.
“The government should focus on protecting the ancient temples, gardens, heritage buildings, dharamshalas, architecture and culture of Vrindavan, which are in great danger. Vrindavan should be given the status of a ‘Pilgrimage Town’, where the sale and consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food must be strictly banned,” said Shri B.V. Madhusudhan Maharaj.
Finally it was decided that a memorandum be sent to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh. Hundreds of letters protesting the merger should be sent to the Chief Minister, Shri Yogi Adityanath. Further options for expressing opposition were also discussed in the meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Swami Devendra Chaitanya. Shri Bihari Lal Vashishth, Dhananjay Gautam, Devendra Dixit, Akash Vashishth, Bihari Lal Shashtri, Hemant Bharti, Radha Vallabh Sharma, Rajendra Agrawal, Ankit Agrawal, Damodar Sharma, Suresh Vedpathi, Vivek Acharya and many other prominent Brajwasis attended the meeting and shared their concern.