By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 11 Jun: Priests working in the Char Dham and related shrines, called Teerth Purohits, have again threatened an agitation against the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Board. They have threatened to agitate from 21 June for protection of their ‘traditional rights’. It may be recalled that the priests have been against the formation of the Devasthanam Board constituted to manage the Char Dham and other related shrines of Uttarakhand. The Board was constituted in 2020 by the then Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat, leading to large scale anger among the priests deputed in the Char Dham and related shrines. They had declared the government move was an attack on their traditional rights and against age old traditions.
However, soon after taking over as Chief Minister in March this year, Tirath Singh Rawat had openly declared his intention to reconsider the decision of his predecessor. However, three months on, the government instead of showing its willingness to dismantle the board, has started appointing members to it. This has angered the Teerth Purohits who have again started mobilising on this issue and have now threatened a full scale agitation from 21 June if the government does not fulfil its promise to reconsider the constitution of the Devasthanam Board. The Teerth Purohits have declared that, from 11 June, they would start performing the pujas wearing black bands in protest. From 21 June onwards, they would switch over to full time agitation, they said.
Mahapanchayat spokesperson Dr Brijesh Sati alleged that the state government is misleading the TeerthPurohits in this regard. While, on the one hand, the Chief Minister was promising reconsideration of the constitution of the Devasthanam Board on various public platforms, on the other hand, eight members had been nominated by the government to the Devasthanam Board. Sati claimed that this was evidence of the contradiction between what the CM said and what the government was doing. He also claimed that the Religious Affairs Minister, Satpal Maharaj, was also indicating that government would not reconsider the constitution of the Devasthanam Board. According to Sati, the Mahapanchayat had decided that, on 11 June, priests from Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri Dhams would register their protest by wearing black bands and black masks to cover their faces, while on 15 June, the priests would observe a symbolic fast at the four dhams. On 20 June, Havan and Yagnya would be performed for grant of wisdom to the government and, finally, from 21 June, dharnas and demonstrations would be started at all the four Dhams.
It may also be recalled that BJP MP Subramanian Swamy had filed a case in the Uttarakhand High Court against the formation of the Devasthanam Board, which according to him is an attempt by the Government to wrest control of Hindu shrines. He lost the case but has since challenged the decision in the Supreme Court where it is yet to come up for hearing.
By Our Staff Reporter