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Char Dham Teerth Purohits will launch agitation against Devasthanam Board from 17 Aug

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By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 9 Aug: The Devasthanam Board issue continues to be a pain in the neck for the ruling BJP in Uttarakhand. Though the government has announced formation of a committee to review formation of the Devasthanam Board, the Teerth Purohits are still not convinced regarding the sincerity of the government on repealing the Board Act. Consequently, they have announced a state-wide agitation against the Board as well as against the government from 17 August, onwards.
An announcement to this effect was made by the Chardham Teerth Purohit Haq-Haquqdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti. It may be recalled that the Samiti has been demanding abolition of the Devasthanam Board ever since the then Trivendra Singh Rawat Government had announced its formation to take over the management of Char Dham and allied temples. These temples were previously under the management of the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee.
Coming to power 5 months ago by replacing CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, the then new CM, Tirath Singh Rawat, had indicated he was willing to repeal the Act but nothing happened. One month ago, when Pushkar Singh Dhami replaced him as CM, he was cautious in his approach but, later on, realising the rising political pressure, he announced formation of a High Powered Committee to review the decision. Though the decision was welcomed by the Teerth Purohits, they were not very confident about the sincerity of the Dhami Government in this respect. Hence, the decision to start the agitation was announced, today. Whether the BJP may like to admit or not, there is little doubt that there is a serious level of discontent in the Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag districts on this issue. In fact, most of the Teerth Purohits and their families who had open allegiance for BJP too have started to resign from the party.
At a press conference held in Rishikesh, today, Chairman of the Committee, Shrikant Kotiyal alleged that the state government was not serious on repealing the Act and demanded that, instead of forming a committee, the government directly abolish the Board and restore the previous arrangements under which the traditional rights of the temple priests and their families would be restored. He added that formation of a High Power Committee was not acceptable to the Teerth Purohits. The Panda and the Purohits would teach a tough lesson to the BJP this time.
Kotiyal added that, during the agitation, BJP leaders and the government officials would be welcomed with black flags and tomatoes would be hurled at them. He said that the agitation would be held simultaneously at Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Ukhimath, Rudraprayag, Devprayag, Rishikesh and Dehradun. He added that the agitation would culminate in a fast unto death if the state government did not cede their demands. He observed that the Dwarka Peeth Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati too had declared support to the agitation and had observed that formation of Devasthanam Board was against Hinduism.
Meanwhile, in Rudraprayag, the Teerth Purohits associated with the BJP have started resigning from the primary membership of the party, demanding the dissolution of the Devasthanam Board.