Members of the Jain community have given a call for a MP-wide bandh on Monday to protest against the Rajasthan high court’s August 10 order that bans Santhara, a centuries-old practice of embracing death by giving up food and water.
Calling the court order "unjust", the community members have urged the Central government to intervene to safeguard their religious freedom.
Several religious organisations and business associations have come out in support of the community. While traders have decided to keep markets closed on Monday, the Bhopal Bar Association too has declared their support for the bandh.
The community has also appealed various educational institutions to support their cause.
“We will take out a rally from Iqbal Maidan and to Rajbhavan (on Monday)...(Later) At Iqbal Maidan, religious gurus of different communities will address residents on the implications of such attacks on religious practices,” said Rajendra Tated of Shwetambar Jain community.
Talking to HT, president of Shri Digamber Jain Panchayat Committee Trust, Pankaj Jain, said that the trust will move to the Rajasthan high court to challenge the decision of putting a ban on Santhara. “We are seeking for Central government’s interference. The state bandh is a part of a nation-wide bandh,” he said.
According to Jain saint, Acharya Vidhyasagar, Santhara and Sanlekhna are not a one day ritual. “One has to undergo tapasya (abstinence) for 12 years to carry out it. The ban on Santhara will be an injustice with saints who are abstaining from food for the past so many years. Like a temple couldn’t be complete without dome similarly, a Jain saint’s life is incomplete without Santhara. The high court has given the order in haste.”
Coming out in support of the Jains, former chairman of Madhya Pradesh Haj Committee, Mohammad Saleem Qureshi, said: “We support (the) Jain community, as they are fighting to retain India’s identity as a secular country.”