Parsis gear up for protest against Metro 3 work under fire temples

Jun 05, 2018, 11:20 IST | Hemal Ashar

Huge public meet organised at Marine Lines on Friday to reiterate opposition to Metro 3 work under fire temples

Wadia Atash Behram
Wadia Atash Behram

Taking heart from the recent Bombay High Court judgment that has directed five directors of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to grant a hearing to the Parsi community opposing alignment of the Mumbai Metro 3 project, the community has planned a massive public meeting on the evening of June 8 at New Marine Lines.

The meeting, which has been announced through community channels and fliers distributed at fire temples, "is organised to show solidarity as a community," said Hanoz Mistry, of The Parsee Voice, one of the organisers. The Parsee Voice is a community-specific online newsletter, which is sent out once a month, or once in two months, on community subjects.

Poster announcing the meeting
Poster announcing the meeting

Massive representation
Mistry says, "We want the Metro 3 realigned to preserve the sanctity of the two fire temples and Atash Behrams [sacred fires] at Princess Street and Kalbadevi. This is not against development." For Mistry, "the public meeting at Patkar Hall is simply to bring on record a protest by the Parsis and prove that this is a massive representation of those who are opposed to the route, because of genuine and valid concerns of desecration."

Mistry says the meeting has evinced a lot of interest. There are buses arranged from three points in the city to ferry attendees to and from the Patkar Hall venue. "From the number of queries, I expect a packed house," Mistry adds.

United front
For World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarthoshtis (WAPIZ) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anahita Desai, "This meeting is a show of unity. Three aspects will be highlighted by the speakers — the structural, legal and religious aspects of the issue." Both Mistry and Desai say that, "a resolution will be passed at the meeting showing opposition to the Metro 3 route," with Desai adding that the meet is also a, "gesture of gratitude to the petitioners who have gone to court on our behalf. The community has been sceptical and disheartened of late, with many saying that nothing will change the Metro 3 route or that going to court may be futile. Yet, those who went to court showed the courage of conviction. We want to say thanks and also show that we are with them in this fight."

Upbeat mood
Both Desai and Mistry say there are many who are also doing a lot of work behind the scenes, in raising awareness, helping legally and in other ways. The organisers say, "There was a lot of despondency earlier but now that the vacation bench has given a stay and told the Metro authorities they have to hear fire temple trusts, priests and community representatives about reservations and fears, the mood has started to lift."

Mistry says, "The meeting is absolutely democratic," while Desai adds, "We are all for the Metro, it will be a boon for the city, but we hope the movers and shakers factor in our voices, too." A vacation bench comprising Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice AS Gadkari directed the MMRCL board members to grant a hearing to two trusts that manage the Parsi temples concerned, the high priests, and some chosen representatives of the community. The next date of hearing is June 14.

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