The religious leaders stated that the sanctity of the fire temples can be preserved only if the ‘Metro 3 underground tunnel totally runs beyond the precincts’ of the Atash Behrams
For the first time since a tussle broke out between the Parsi community and the MMRCL over protecting two of their Atash Behrams from Metro III, the high priests have publicly shown their support to the five petitioners who filed the petition in the Bombay High Court. In a letter sent earlier this week, seven high priests have urged the petitioners not to ‘leave any stone unturned in protecting and preserving the sanctity’ of the Wadiaji and Anjuman Atash Behrams.
The letter was sent to the petitioners by seven high priests and religious scholars of the community including Kaikhushroo Jamasp Asa, Cyrus N Dastur, Kaikhushroo Navroji Dastur Meherjirana, Firoze Kotwal, Khurshed Dastur, Dr Parvez Bajan and Dr Ramiyar Karanjia on November 14. The religious leaders stated that the sanctity of the fire temples can be preserved only if the ‘Metro 3 underground tunnel totally runs beyond the precincts’ of the Atash Behrams.
They further added that the solution to the issue lies either in one of the eight alternatives suggested by Parsi community’s experts or one that MMRCL and their consultants would ‘co-create’ with the petitioners to protect their religious sentiments and avoid delay of the project. The letter also highlighted instances where the MMRCL has made changes to the project in the past like redesigning the station at the domestic airport terminal to save a 100-year-old tree.
Apart from asking the petitioners to continue to pursue the issue with the authorities, the religious leaders thanked them for their contribution in upholding the religious sentiments of the Parsi Community. Chief petitioner Jamshed Sukhadwalla said that he was happy to receive the support of the high priests. “They are concerned about the Atash Behrams like all of us. They have given us their support and guidance in the letter and have advised us on how we should take this forward,” he said.
The support of the high priests is an important moment for the community since Parsis had earlier voiced their displeasure at the clergy’s reluctance to take a stand against Metro III in the past. A few members of the community had even said that they felt that their clergy had let them down.
It has been an emotional journey for the Parsi community as the case continues in the Bombay High Court. After the arguments which ran back and forth for several months, the case is awaiting a final judgment. Despite several attempts made by the Parsi community’s legal representatives to get a solution to discuss the alternatives to ensure that the tunnel doesn’t desecrate the fire temples, MMRCL was unwilling to be a part of it.