Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday accused previous governments of allotting land to their “sycophants” next to archaeologically important buildings by overlooking the law.
The prime minister, who inaugurated an archaeology institute in Greater Noida, however, did not name any particular party or specific plot of land while levelling charges during a public meeting in presence of Union Minister Mahesh Sharma and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
He said he was in Varanasi on Friday where he laid the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s approach road and its beautification.
He had charged the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh with non-cooperation for the delay in beautification of his parliamentary constituency.
“Those of you who have been to Varanasi can imagine the congested lanes there, don’t know what was the condition of the God there. When the people there elected me as their MP, I decided to do something there.
“Now you go there and notice, we had acquired around 300 properties adjoining Bhole Baba (Kashi Vishwanath temple) and I was astonished because temples started emerging from inside houses during demolition work,” he said.
“People had constructed walls and changed temples to their homes, made bedrooms, and even kitchens on them. Forty temples, 200 to 300-year-old, fine examples of archaeology emerged from these houses,” he told the gathering.
The prime minister said these findings are the testimonies to the fact how “fast asleep” the people running the archaeology department were prior to 2014.
“If you want to move even a stone, the archaeology department will catch you by your neck and the people there had usurped 40 temples for 40-50 years with the blessings of rajnetas,” he said.
Modi said he does not work for his own praise, but for the praise of the country, adding these temples were now being conserved and taken care of.
“But you have seen how some people have problem even with that. They are the same people who ignored scientific findings about our history and heritage,” he said.
“They overlook the law for their own gains. There are plenty of examples when previous governments had allotted their ‘raag darbaris’ (sycophants) plots of land for bungalows and farm houses next to the archaeologically important buildings. Who are these ‘raag darbaris’ for whom the law was ignored?” he said.
Inaugurating the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology, under the Archelogical Survey of India, Modi said research scholars, students from across the world can come here and have a comprehensive study of the rich heritage, spirituality, tradition, books, art and other skills of India with the help of modern tools and facilities.
“Our glorious country has witnessed a phase of centuries of slavery, faced invasion by foreigners, seen ancient heritage being destructed by invaders. Archaeology has a major role in rediscovering that,” he said.
Union Minister for Culture (independent charge) Mahesh Sharma said the state-of-the-art institute, built at an estimated cost of Rs 289 crore is spread over 25 acres and has been completed in 17 months.
“The ultra modern green building of the institute is equipped with all latest technologies. It comprises an auditorium with seating capacity of 1,000 people, an open-air theatre and an archaeological museum,” the ministry of culture said in a statement.
“The Institute of Archaeology is an academic wing of ASI under the Ministry of Culture. In the institute, the students are provided with a supportive, enthusiastic and challenging academic atmosphere which enables them to achieve their full potential in the field of archaeology,” it added. PTI