Ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections, Home Minister Amit Shah laid the foundation stone for a ₹188-crore project to develop Batadrava, the birthplace of 15th-16th century neo-Vaishnav saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva, in Assam’s Nagaon district. The Batadrava satra (monastry) is among a few religious centres being ‘developed’ as part of the BJP’s agenda to evict ‘encroachers’ of ‘suspect’ nationality, which usually means Muslim migrants from Bangladesh.
One of the main clauses of the December 29, 2023, peace accord between the extremist United Liberation Front of Asom and the government, if implemented, would pave the way to reserve areas within a five-km radius of Batadrava, more than 500 other satras, thousands of namghars (community prayer halls of the Sankaradeva order) and temples. The clause says no community other than indigenous communities, primarily the Assamese, would be allowed to buy land within these zones.
The Batadrava redevelopment project, initiated under the Centre’s larger ‘Assam Darshan’ programme, aims to develop the area as a place of tourist attraction while preserving history and cultural heritage. The project expands over 54.5 acres.
In April 2023, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the government’s plan to construct a corridor in the Kamakhya Temple complex on the lines of the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. This project of an unspecified cost entails increasing the space around the temple — one of the major pilgrimages of the Shakti cult — from 3,000 sq.ft. to about 1,00,000 sq.ft. spread over three levels. Six major temples in the complex, currently hidden from public view, would be restored to their original glory, officials involved with the project said. A pilgrim facilitation centre, guest houses, a medical centre, banks, and food outlets are also part of the ambitious project.