Railway Board Orders Removal of Deities from Stations

August 5, 2004

Source: rediff.com


On August 5, 2004 rediff.com reported, "Should railway stations exhibit pictures of gods, goddesses and religious icons? No, says Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav... A communiqué from Railway Board Chairman R K Singh has instructed railway authorities to remove pictures of gods and goddesses from all stations. But the directive has angered railway employees, travellers and, yes, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The instructions followed complaints that many railway stations had large photographs of gods exhibited on platforms and even in the offices of station masters and duty managers... Photographs of Lord Muthappan and Goddess Lakshmi are displayed at many stations in the Southern Railway Zone. Hundreds of thousands of devotees who travel in trains to religious places also use the stations to pray... Officials said a number of photographs of Hindu gods and goddesses hung in the railway offices may have prompted the Railway Board chairman to issue the order. 'Also, the railway authorities want to ensure that the stations are free from all religious activities, especially after the Godhra train tragedy,' an official said. Railway Caterers' Association national president N B Krishna Kurup said it is not proper on the part of the government to ban prayers and other religious activities at railway stations. 'Everyone has the right to religious worship. Railway stations are used by millions of people every day. So what is the harm if some of them worship before their gods at the stations,' Kurup asked."