Indian authorities dismantle temple built in honor of Prime Minister
Indian authorities in a district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hometown have demolished a controversial temple put up by the leader's supporters in his honor.
The demolishment came days after Modi expressed reservation about having structure built in his name.
Government workers began dismantling the temple in Rajokot district in Gujarat state, as district official Manisha Chandra said the structure purportedly "encroached" on State land.
"The temple encroached on government land, therefore I ordered to it cleared," Chandra told ucanews.com.
He pointed out that Modi's supporters, who financed the construction, had no permission to build the structure on government property.
Around 350 Modi supporters gathered funds of some U.S. $8,000 which were used to fund the construction of the temple.
Inside the temple was a bust of the Indian premier, who was swept into power in May last year by the Hindi nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
After Modi took control of the government his party has been seen as fueling the rise of Hindu nationalism in India, with religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims targeted in attacks.
Some people belonging to minority religions were forced to convert to Hinduism, as minorities protested such actions.
Minority groups lambasted Modi's inaction over the Hindu nationalist's campaign and U.S. President Barack Obama was seen as joining the chorus of criticism against the Indian prime minister.
The prime minister made his remarks against the bust, which bore his likeness, and his trademark collarless shirt and saffron shawl, over the microblogging site Twitter.
"This is shocking and against India's great traditions," Modi's tweet said.
In a later post, Modi appealed to people to devote their resources to other worthy causes such as providing toilets to the millions of Indians who did not have access to proper sanitation.
Before becoming prime minister, Modi was the governor of Gujarat for 15 years and his popularity helped him national power in India last year.
Having temples built in honor of certain personalities is not new in India. Some temples have been erected to celebrate actors, politicians and even sports icons such as cricket players.
Modi on Feb. 18 pledged to put an end to persecution of minorities in the country, promising to ensure religious freedom after his government faced accusations of being apathetic towards the plight of Christians and Muslims.