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Anupam Trivedi, Hindustan Times
Dehradun, September 09, 2013
Almost three months after the killer deluge claimed scores of lives in Uttarakhand, the state government is all set to resume puja (prayers) at the Kedarnath shrine on Wednesday.

The decision, however, has invited the wrath of social activists and Opposition BJP, which has questioned the idea of holding a prayer ceremony only with a select group of people.

A number of locals on Monday held a protest rally in Rudraprayag, around 220 km from state capital Dehradun, opposing the puja.

"None of the locals from the Kedar valley have been invited to the shrine except government officials, politicians and mediapersons," said Gangadhar Nautiyal, one of the protesters.

Sources said a number of officials in the past two days took sorties to the shrine to take stock of the preparations. Many alleged that the government “spin doctors” are working hard to make the ceremony a “successful media event”.

Chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had earlier said the government has decided to hold prayers at the shrine after consultation with priests.

According to Bahuguna, the shrine will not be opened for pilgrims and a decision on this will be taken after September 30.

The BJP has termed the proposed prayer as 'sarkari puja' (government prayer).

“We will oppose the event. It is nothing, but an attempt by the Congress to protect its image,” said Ajay Bhatt, leader of Opposition in state Assembly.

Many others opposed the ceremony, saying that several villages across the Kedar valley are yet to return to normalcy.