There are 179 illegal religious structures on platforms and yards across the railway network in the country, the new minister with the portfolio, Ashwini Vaishnaw informed Parliament on Friday. In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, the minister said these structures were in the form of mosques, dargahs (mausoleums) and temples and that they had been there for years or decades together.
“There are 179 illegal religious structures existing on railway platforms and yards across all zonal railways. These structures have been recorded and monitoring is done regularly to ensure that no further expansion/extension takes place,” the railway minister said.
“Efforts to remove these illegal religious structures from all station platforms or yards have been taken by the railway administration along with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) with the assistance of local administration and Government Railway Police (GRP),” the railway minister said.
According to the minister, the railway administration often faces public agitation in the removal of the illegal religious structures. Being a law and order issue, the encroachments are difficult to remove without the cooperation of the state government which is found lacking in most cases, the railway minister said.
“Further, the Railways also makes efforts to amicably settle the issue by persuading the members of the religious structure committee to shift the location of their religious structures to other places outside of railway areas. With strict vigilance and monitoring, further proliferation or mushrooming of these illegal religious structures has been prevented,” the railway minister said.
Vaishnaw said that with strict vigilance and monitoring, “further proliferation or mushrooming of these illegal structures has been prevented.”
The discussions occurred in Rajya Sabha earlier in the day before the House was adjourned till 11 AM on Monday amid continuous uproar by the Opposition MPs over Pegasus snooping project.
The opposition MPs have been relentlessly protesting since the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament, resulting in both Houses being adjourned multiple times.
On Friday, Union parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi urged the Opposition to “allow the House to function,” citing that the Pegasus project is a “totally non-serious issue.” “More than 315 members want the Question Hour. Despite that, behaving like this, it’s more unfortunate. IT Minister (Ashwini Vaishnaw) has given a detailed statement in both the Houses,” Joshi said.