Gangotri priests end agitation against Char Dham Board after talks with state govt
The priests will be submitting a list of their demands/suggestions to the state government within a week.Updated: Sep 21, 2020, 08:56 IST
Priests from Gangotri shrine in Uttarakhand - one of the Char Dhams - ended their agitation against the formation of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board on Sunday after holding talks with the district administration and a delegation from the board.
The priests will be submitting a list of their demands/suggestions to the state government within a week.
Mayur Dixit, district magistrate Uttarkashi said, “The priests have agreed to end their protest. We have asked the priest community to give their suggestions and problems with the Char Dham Board in writing within a week. This will further be sent to the officials of the Board.”
On June 21, The Uttarakhand High Court had dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy against the state government’s takeover of the Char Dhams and fifty-one other shrines through the formation of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board.
The court ruled that the ownership of the temple properties would vest in Char Dham shrines and power of the Board would be confined only to the administration and management of the properties.
Last December, the Uttarakhand assembly had passed the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Bill. In January, Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya gave her assent for the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019.
Aggrieved priests had threatened to move the high court against the Act as they claimed to have been kept in the dark about the new law. They had alleged that the government took the step to ensure its control over shrine-related issues, bypassing the powerful priest community.
Deepak Semwal, secretary of Gangotri Dham Committee said that priests from the shrine had a meeting with the district administration after which they have been assured that their suggestions and demands for the Board will be noted.
“The Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board was, in a way, imposed upon us with the government not holding any talks with us. Now, the officials from the Board want to set up their office near Gangotri shrine. We do not know what work will be done from that office and have asked the district administration to make that clear to us. After talks with the administration, we have also stopped our protests as we have been assured that our suggestions and demands would be considered,” said Semwal.
He added that the priests will be submitting a list of suggestions/demands to the district administration after which further talks will be held with the representatives of the Board but till then they will not allow the setting up of an office near the shrine.
Priests from Gangotri had started their protest around the last week of June, alleging that the state government was forcing the rules of the Board on them.