Surendra Jain, International Joint General Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has equated the Rs 5 crore fine imposed on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living foundation by the National Green Tribunal to Jizya tax. Jizya was a tax levied on Hindus during the Mughal rule in India.
Sri Sri's Art of Living has been at loggerheads with the country's top green court for organising the three-day World Culture Festival on the floodplains of the Yamuna, from 11 March.
Environmentalists have brought to the notice of the green Court that the massive construction spread over 1,000 acres will adversely impact the Yamuna ecosystem, which has already been battling severe pollution.
Allegations of selective environment activism
In the statement, Surendra Jain has been quoted as saying that the Yamuna Bank and Yamuna Khadar shelters "Bangladeshi infiltrators and illegal slums". Calling the Okhla Barrage a "mine of Muslim votebank", the VHP leader questioned whether the leather factories and slaughter houses lining the Yamuna bank were not polluting the river as well.
Counter allegations of Communalising an environmental issue'
This statement by the VHP comes days after Swami Omjee of the Hindu Maha Sabha had called environment activist Vimlendu Jha "a CIA agent, anti-national and a terrorist" as he had petitioned against the AOL event.
Pointing out a pattern to deliberately communalise an entirely environmental issue, Jha tells Catch:
"While speaking to Bhupendra Choubey, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tried to give the whole issue a religious colour when he started talking about Batla House, unnecessarily. Starting from top spiritual leaders like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Hindu Maha Sabha goons, everyone is trying to communalise a matter which is essentially an environmental issue. It has nothing to do with any political party or any religious group. This is just the fate of the Yamuna that we are discussing."
About 35 lakh people from all across the world are expected to attend the event commemorating 35 years of AOL.
With inputs from Somi Das and Salma Rehman
Edited by Abha Srivastava