Vrindavan, 2017.05.06 (VT): All the major community groups of Vrindavan have found a common platform in protest of the Mathura-Vrindavan merger.
The Vrindavan community has started an indefinite relay fast against the UP Government’s proposal of merging the civic bodies of Mathura and Vrindavan to form a combined Municipal Corporation, which is to be named ‘Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam’.
The hunger strike began at 10 a.m on Thursday following a rally of 200 people, which protested through the streets of Vrindavan starting at Sheelwali Kunj in the Brahma Kund area. The protest reached the clock-gate of the Municipality where they began a sit-in. A relay fast will continue until their demands are met.
The demonstration is being organized under the banner of ‘Sarvadaliya Anishchitkalin Kramik Anshan Samiti’. Various groups are taking turns to participate in the fast. A motorcycle rally was also taken through the town, in which hundreds of youths participated. The protest is growing stronger with each passing day.
Community leaders explained to the masses why the proposed merger would bring an end to the glorious past of Shri Dham Vrindavan. Prominent members of the community spoke at the event and explained their reasons for rejecting the government’s plan to merge Vrindavan and Mathura as a single municipal corporation.
“The merger has nothing to do with development. Perhaps Vrindavan alone has received more funds in the last five years than what a Municipal Corporation would get,” said Shri Mridul Kant Shastri, a prominent Bhagvatacharya. He added, “Since the time of Lord Krishna, the culture of Mathura and that of Vrindavan are totally different. They are also incompatible. When Shri Krishna went to Mathura, the gopis followed him only up to Akrur Ghat. They would not leave Vrindavan. There is a profound sweetness of love in Vrindavan that cannot be found in Mathura, or in any other holy place. For this reason, the two cities cannot be joined from a religious standpoint.”
Shri Krishna Saras said, “If a merger of Vrindavan into Mathura occurs, Vrindavan will become a mere colony of Mathura and the unique identity of this holy dham will be destroyed. Even the name of the town will change from Vrindavan to ‘Mathura-Vrindavan’. The Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority has already done substantial damage to Vrindavan. They have allowed uncontrolled development without proper planning. The MVDA has approved and allowed mass deforestation, construction on the Yamuna floodplain, as well as huge unsightly buildings that mar Vrindavan’s skyline and obscure the temple spires.”
Shri Sumit Gautam from the Vrindavan Swambhiman Manch said, “The merger would cause a hundred times the damage we have seen so far. It will become impossible to stop the sale of meat, eggs, fish and alcohol in Vrindavan after a merger with Mathura. As of now, Vrindavan is a dry city. Just a few years ago, a license to sell liquor was given by the Excise Department to a shop in Vrindavan’s Chaitanya Vihar, after which local residents torched the shop. The people of Vrindavan do not want these negative influences in our town. Yet, if Vrindavan merges with Mathura, these types of shops will definitely start operating with full permission of the government.”
Swami Maheshanand Saraswati said, “There will be a sudden increase in taxes on property, water and so forth. Those who live in Vrindavan as renounced Babajis and Matajis will have trouble surviving the way they do now, living and worshiping in small and simple huts, just as they have for the last five hundred years. In addition, the entirety of Vrindavan will be re-zoned as a city.”
Pandit Shivam Gautam and Shri Raghav Bharadwaj added, “New gaushalas will not be allowed, and Brajwasis will no longer be allowed to keep cows at home.”
“Vrindavan has received a lot of funding from the government over the years toward its development. The wealth will be dispersed and much of it will go to Mathura, if Vrindavan and Mathura are merged,” said Shri Virendra Sharma.
Dr. Devendra Chaitanya Brahmachari, representing Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance said, “Even the Mughal Emperor Akbar, presiding over his empire from Lahore, desired to give respect to Vrindavan after hearing its glories. He ordered Abu Faizal to draw up a boundary joining the recognized villages of Dhaulera, Dusayaj and Rajpur Mauja, thereby establishing Vrindavan as a legally recognized city of the Mughal Empire. And again, in 1866, the then-British government also recognized the municipality of Vrindavan as separate from Mathura.
“The irony is that exactly 150 years have passed since then. To remove Vrindavan’s separate identity this year, on the anniversary of its legal establishment, would be tragic indeed.”
Some speakers provided alternatives to the merger of the civic bodies.
Shri Yogesh Dwivedi from the Bahujan Samaj Party said, “If the boundary of Vrindavan is extended by just ten kilometers, it can be upgraded to a Grade A municipality. This would be a much more appropriate approach to development here.”
Jagannath Poddar from Friends of Vrindavan suggested, “The old city, i.e the area within the panch kosi parikrama should be given heritage city status and preserved accordingly. New construction should follow certain guidelines to ensure the preservation of Vrindavan’s mood, and the cutting of old trees should be strictly forbidden. A shrine board could also be formed on behalf of Vrindavan, Govardhan, Gokul, Barsana and so forth. These would help run the holy towns in addition to the municipalities and Nagar Panchayats.”
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