Firstly, I would like to inform the community how and why things have come to this unfortunate situation… The community has been misled right from the start. In October 2017, Er. Hathiram approached me in Udvada, saying that the tunnel would be passing under the sanctum sanctorum (Kebla) of the Wadiaji Atash Behram. On knowing this, I immediately showed concern and told him to bring me all the details and fixed a meeting at 2:00 pm on 23rd October, 2017, at the Athornan Mandal office, where he was also going to bring with himself, Hanoz Mistry and Jamshed Sukhadwala. However, no one turned up for the meeting and there was a general confusion caused because on the one hand he falsely claimed that I did not confirm the meeting, when I had; and on the other hand, he told Er. Firoz Dastur of Udvada, that they (Hanoz and Sukhadwala) did not want to meet me.
Here on, I will be providing answers to the reactions (excerpts) received on my clarification that was posted on Social Media on Thursday:
EXCERPT OF MESSAGES BY ER. HATHIRAM:
“… Dasturji took the matter in his own hands and had measurements taken at Wadiaji Atash Behram and then set up a meeting with the MMRCL from which he came out “fully satisfied”.
Vada Dasturji Responds: The crux of the matter at that time was whether the tunnel was being developed under the sanctum sanctorum or the kebla. So, when I went ahead and had a meeting with MMRCL, I was assured, based on the professional, verified drawings that the tunnel would not be passing below the kebla. And it is to this concern that I voiced my so-called satisfaction, which has become the chant of some! I repeat, I mentioned my being satisfied ONLY WITH REGARD TO THE VERIFICATION THAT THE TUNNELS WERE NOT RUNNING UNDER THE KEBLA OR THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM – WHICH IS THE FACT.
“Dasturji Khurshed chose to ridicule his own community members by describing them as ‘a miniscule group with nothing better to do, eccentric people with closed minds out to whip up a fear psychosis.”
Vada Dasturji Responds: My statement is being completely misunderstood and taken out of context. This statement was not to the community but to some people who want to use this matter for their own personal gain and cause unrest to our small community. As stated earlier and herein I have done all that is necessary.
“The way both Dasturji’s’ (Vada Dasturjis Firoz Kotwal and Khurshed Dastur) opinions have been considered by the Judges is open for the community to see and no amount of clarifications about meetings held and Ministers met will wipe out the simple, single and sickening fact – that the persons who could have most helped the cause of the Atash Behram, failed to live up to their duty and responsibility. Everything else is irrelevant.”
Vada Dasturji Responds: I have done my duties and responsibilities, as is expected out of the position I am committed to as High Priest of Udvada Iranshah, in the most effective and righteous manner. I don’t believe in taking to social media and making a big noise about it. Unfortunately, the dignity of my silence has been maliciously misconstrued by these handful of miscreants as my indifference or even guilt! Kindly refer to all my mails where I have been in constant communication with various ministries and ministers in trying to support our Atash Behrams and our Community.
Why and how can anyone make such a blanket statement that ‘Everything else is irrelevant’?? In 2015, when MMRCL had issued the notice to the Trustees of both Atash Behrams, why was there silence for two years till 2017? The Trustees did not bother to inform me or the community and as a result we were in the dark about this development. Even the journalist Nozer Bharucha, who is usually extremely active and has been maligning me without ever approaching me to find out the facts, was nowhere at that time, but now he has the audacity to blame me for this mess created by the Trustees!
In Anjuman Atash Behram, Dasturji JamasAspa who is also the Trustee and the recipient of MMRC’s notice of 2015, regarding the tunneling, also neither approached me or the Community to speak out against the same. However, he now suddenly seems to have joined hands with the Petitioners, thinking that this will abdicate him of his duty which was to immediately take action against MMRC’s notice.
In Udvada, when the nearby land was acquired for development, as soon as I knew of it, I moved the Court immediately, and that promptness in action had saved the day. In my letter, dated 8 June, 2018, I have stated earlier, “had I known about the alignment of the tunnels below, these two pious buildings earlier, I surely would have objected to the same also and would have suggested a realignment… I had suggested realignment to the metro authorities but was informed that it was too late.” Had I been told in 2015 itself when the notices were received by the Trustees, the whole Community would have been saved this legal struggle and religious strife that we are facing today. In any event, the tunnel is not running below the Kebla
EXCERPT OF MESSAGE BY
JEHANGIR BISNEY ON JAM-E-JAMSHED FACEBOOK:
“Although the petitioners have brought on record a letter dated 8.6.2018 (page 211 of the petitioners affidavit dated 13.6.2018) addressed by Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor (High Priest), the said High Priest has not filed any affidavit on oath to support the contentions of the petitioners.
Vada Dasturji Responds: Pls refer to my letter on Pg. 19. I especially emphasize what I had written in my letter’s concluding paragraph, as, “I reiterate by that if there is any possibility to realign the tunnels to preserve the sanctity of these edifices, then the same should be undertaken for which the religious sentiments of this minuscule community would be respected for which it shall remain eternally grateful.” This letter is in the records of the High Court – to try and find fault in my intentions or actions because an affidavit wasn’t filed is simply trying to malign me based on a legal technicality.
EXCERPTS OF MESSAGES BY
JAM-E-JAMSHED ON FACEBOOK:
“scores of Jame readers have written on our FB Page and called the office hoping and praying that Dasturji Khurshed goes beyond merely issuing a ‘Clarification’ to actually doing something concrete to safeguard the two Atash Behrams. …The community’s perception is that he has let the Parsi community down at this very critical juncture. It is hoped that Dasturji Khurshed will make amends in the Supreme Court and set the record straight via an Affidavit that he has NOT AGREED to the tunnel running underneath the Atash Behrams and that he wants it realigned by 7 meters.”
Vada Dasturji Responds: My work and my clarifications are open for all to see and verify. I would like to ask the Editor of Jame, before making direct and indirect accusations on me, was it not your duty to ask the Trustees of the Atash Behrams why they hadn’t taken action when they received the MMRC notice in 2015? Have you even mentioned that it was a dereliction of their duty towards our Atash Behrams and the community? Don’t you think things wouldn’t have come to this unfortunate state, had you taken action in making the community aware in 2015?
As for the accusation that I have “merely issued a clarification”, I would like to point out that whenever I have been approached by Trustees of the Atash Behrams to use my good offices for the cause of the community regarding the MMRC, I have been most pro-active, cancelling my own schedules to prioritize community matters – the petitioners themselves will testify to this.
“This is the least that the community expects from its ordained High Priests, failing which the deduction will unfortunately be: “Dasturjio ae dharam dubaviyo.”
Vada Dasturji Responds: Really? You should be posing this extremely disrespectful and instigative statement made in very poor taste – ‘Dasturjio ae dharam dubaviyo’ – to the ones who decided to keep quiet and not share crucial information when they were supposed to take action; and later, joined hands with the petitioners to be in the good books of the Community, washing their hands off their sense of duty and responsibility, to our religion or to the community. I suggest that the Jame Editor read the article printed in Parsi Times, dated 1 December, 2018, titled, ‘Conventional Religion (sagvariyo dharam) Loses Its Pristine Purity’ by Dasturji Dr. Maneckji Dhalla. Moreover, I have done all that is necessary (within the limited time given to me) to safeguard the community and its beliefs. It’s shocking that such things are being said against me and my words being misconstrued and misinterpreted.
“May Ahura Mazda and Iranshah guide Dasturji Khurshed into standing up for his religion and his community, for which not just he but his future generations will also be blessed.”
Vada Dasturji Responds: Yes, indeed I always have and I always will stand up for my religion and my community – but it will be based on religious facts and scriptures, and not pseudo religiosity or hearsay, so as to ensure that we are fighting for the right cause! May Ahura Mazda bless our Community, the so-called social media self-proclaimed religious scholars and preachers and editors, to follow the path of truth and wisdom leading to the prosperity and unity of the Community, as opposed to instigating disparity and divide.