Metro 3 realignment: Parsi community members meet MMRCL officials

Jun 09, 2018, 07:43 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

Parsi community members meet MMRCL officials at SoBo site office with Metro III realignment suggestion; evening meeting at Patkar Hall to apprise others of authorities' mellowing of attitude shows the orthodox and liberals putting their differences a

Metro 3 realignment: Parsi community members meet MMRCL officials
Patkar Hall bursts at the seams during the meeting on Friday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The divide between liberals and the orthodox in the Parsi community seems to have visibly reduced, considering the large number of people attending a gathering at Patkar Hall in Marine Lines last evening. Last morning, the group of petitioners praying to the Bombay High Court to not allow any part of the Metro III underground tunnel to go from under either of the two Atash Behrams (Wadiaji and Anjuman) met with MMRCL authorities at their site office, as earlier instructed by the HC.

Earlier this week, MMRCL had provided the group with documents regarding the tunnelling, as requested by the latter, after which this meeting was held. According to advocate Zerick Dastur, a petitioner, the meeting with Metro rail directors was "positive". The meeting was attended by solicitor Berjis Desai, Zerick and his legal team, Wadiaji Atash Behram trustees Hosi Dastur and Farokh Kavarana, structural expert Jamshed Sukhadwala, architect Jehanbux Billimoria, High Priests Cyrus Dastur and Khurshed Dastur, Ervads Dr Rooyintan Peer, Dr Parvez Bajan and Burjor Antia, solicitor Homiar Vakil, Ratan Patel, Behruz Irani and a team (Karl Wadia) representing architect Hafeez Contractor. Those representing MMRCL were Ashwini Bhide, BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, state finance secretary U P S Madan and former bureaucrat Rahul Asthana among others.

Amicably yours
"We told the authorities that we are here to discuss a solution... We made a general overview of our statement, and then, we made religious and spiritual submissions to them. We also got our architect to present a PPT on various realignment options, and showed how a slight realignment could take care of the entire matter," said Dastur. "It was all done in an amicable environment. We are happy with the tone of the entire conversation. They said they will consider all of this. We remain hopeful..."

The message from the meeting, which went on for a little more than an hour, was later conveyed to members of the community in the evening at Patkar Hall, which was a sight to behold. The Hall, which can accommodate 750, was overflowing to the point that there were people standing in the aisles between chairs and even outside the hall, a true manifestation of the community putting their differences aside and standing together for a common cause. Buses from various baugs were organised by the World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarthostis (WAPIZ) to congregate at the venue by 6.30 pm.

Fiery speeches all round
When Sukhadwalla — the man who has been fighting this battle since the start — took the stage, he was greeted with a thunderous applause, one that reverberated through the hall every time he finished speaking just two lines. "From the very beginning, they (authorities) have been saying that realignment is not an option. Now, at least, their attitude has changed; that is what we gathered after the morning meeting," he said to the 1,200+-strong crowd.

Young Zerick took the stage after Sukhadwalla and delivered a fiery and inspiring speech. "There is a divine intervention happening," he said. "The highlight of all our exercises till date is to see that all of us have left behind our differences and decided to speak in one voice. Today, we have the support of all five high priests and all seven BPP trustees. Let us continue to keep aside our differences on this issue... "

Desai took the stage after Dastur and said, "We are the only minority in India that has never asked for any rights or entitlements. This is the first time in the history of our community that we are asking authorities to respect our fundamental right of religion and worship. Our PM has called us a "modern minority", and now is the time for his government to protect our rights when we are speaking in one voice."

BPP in the front row
In the front row at Patkar Hall were the inseparable BPP trustees Yezdi Desai and Kersi Randeria along with the former's wife and CEO of WAPIZ, Anahita Desai. The BPP had, earlier this month, as a sign of support to the petitioners, filed an affidavit in HC. "Today's meeting demonstrated how concerned the community is about the Metro going below the two Atash Behrams," said Randeria. "If the authorities can take cognisance of a banyan tree, surely they can show the same consideration to the religious sentiments of our community. We will continue to petition them through all possible channels till we succeed."

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