Monks demand approach road to Buddha Vihar

by Syed Rizwanullah, TNN, 7 May 2009

AURANGABAD, India -- Hundreds of Buddhist monks took out a morcha to the residence of the vice-chancellor of Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University (Bamu) on Wednesday demanding a road to the Buddha Vihar situated close to the ancient Aurangabad caves.

Amid tight police bandobast, the agitators reached the V-C's official residence. They also asked the university authorities to withdraw the law suit filed against monk Vishuddhanand Bodhi, who lives on the premises.

Vice-chancellor Nagnath Kotapalle, however, refused to budge. He said that the university could not meet the demands of Vishuddhanand, who has set up an unauthorised seminary' near the caves complex, adjoining the university campus.

"Vishuddhanand is indulging in illegal construction activity on the university land because of which we filed a civil suit against him. Since the matter is still in court the monks should not have taken out the morcha. They are unnecessarily giving a religious turn to the whole issue," Kotapalle said.

He also regretted that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was playing a mute spectator. "Had the ASI taken timely and appropriate action against the monk, the situation would not have got out of control," he said.

Repeated efforts by this correspondent to contact superintending archaeologist K Veerbhadra Rao proved futile. Bhante Vishuddhanand Bodhi claimed that the monks do not intend to grab the land. "We just want a passage from the university gate to the Aurangabad caves where at least 5 lakh people gather on the occasion of Vijya Dashmi. We want to avoid possibility of a stampede," he said. Bhante alleged that instead of listening to their side the V-C is using harsh language.

He also claimed that the land traditionally belonged to the Buddhist monks since ages and the ASI has no right to question their presence on the premises.