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None of your business

There has never been a clear demarcation between the ambit of the State and religious institutions in this country.
None | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON JUL 27, 2006 12:15 AM IST

Like all clubs, the Sabarimala temple in Kerala also has its own rules — some written, some unwritten. As long as they are not in conflict with the larger law of the land, there is little meddling required by the authorities. Keeping this in mind, the news that the temple’s priest, Kantararu Mohanaru, was sacked by the temple board after allegations of conducting ‘immoral activities’ with a woman of ‘dubious antecedents’, should have been all there was to the episode. Unfortunately, the God-fearing V.S. Achutanandan government doesn’t see it that way. A few days ago, the authorities ordered a probe by the crime branch to look into an actress’s claim that she had entered the temple. Now, Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has asked the state intelligence to provide all details regarding the thantri’s ‘immoral’ tryst that led to his sacking.

By getting into a terrain it has no business of getting into — the allegations were pertaining to ‘immoral’, not ‘illegal’, acts — the state is simply making matters worse. To take advantage of the governmental meddling, the ‘accused’  has started to play with the facts he had earlier provided.

There has never been a clear demarcation between the ambit of the State and religious institutions in this country. There have been occasions when religious sensibilities have been used to protect those who have broken the law. And then, there have been instances where the absence of a crime has not stopped state authorities from playing Keystone Kops. And it isn’t governmental busybodies alone who are to blame. The media, not happy to just follow a ‘juicy story’, have also taken it upon themselves to conduct a trial — and pass moral judgment. Even if Hindu priests are not bound by celibacy, the unwritten rule of priests needing to be pure may have been enough for the devotees at Sabarimala to insist on the thantri’s departure. Why the government, the police and the media have to deliver its sweet judgment against him is beyond any rational — or legal — explanation.

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