Naina Devi temple tragedy: pathetic temple management by government

It is for the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh that we have had such a large scale tragedy in one of our Holy places. Today in Himachal, which is known as the Land of Gods, even Gods must be ashamed of the cruelty and negligence of “us” its caretakers. I consider it as a wakeup call from The Gods to the administration to get practical and do something before it is too late. Strong words or announcements would not help. A different level of commitment is required from the administration to prevent the same from happening again.

Long time ago most of the temples accumulating millions of rupees in donations from devotees, including Naina Devi were taken over by the government. The local SDM has been given the charge of an administrator of the local temples whereas Deputy Commissioner manages all temples under his district. A share of duties has even been handed over to the tehsildar too. Unfortunately with rising population all administrative authorities are under tremendous workload and get an opportunity to visit the temple only to inaugurate an occasion, like a fair.

In the case of Naina Devi I am pretty sure that the local administrator must have visited the temple on the very first day of Navratra, got the best seat in the temple and performed havan and puja as a chief guest with VIP treatment. On the very same day he or she might have even made the Gods to wait! Such is apathy of temple management in Himachal that the day administrators or Politicians visit the temple, public is the one which suffers. What an apathy that the poor devotees have to pay the price for these front row attendee’s incapabilities to do their jobs. So is our media. They will be there to count the bodies. Didn’t they get a chance to go through the temple management or for that matter the emergency management ever?

It is no hidden fact that temple management in Himachal is just for the names sake. During my school days, I remember the local priest and the local temple committee managing all the affairs including handling major fairs and they used to do a wonderful job. I was born and brought up in a temple town, Baijnath to be more precise. Shivratri and Shravan Mondays are big affairs in that temple and I remember us doing everything on our own as the local admin was not in control of the temple at that time. From managing the stalls, lining up devotees for darshan of Lord Shiva to collecting the funds from locals to arrange all the activities, we used to manage on our own.

Gone are the days! They use to be fun filled and quite engaging with a strong sense of community building. And everything use to pass like a wink.
Now the temples look more like a police cantonment or a SDM court. Police gives the best darshan to pass holders and its own family and friends. The SDM/DC/MLA/CM/Governor gets privilege to perform the first havan. I am sure that God never set any priorities but we sure forced him to.

It’s a shame that those whose negligence has led to this disaster are sitting in the comforts of their homes and their hearts are not bleeding on this tragic time. I wish they wake up and do something, firm solutions not just announcements and monetary relief. Cause the way our infrastructure is failing it will not be too long before the helm would be spared. The agony is that the administration comes into action only when the tragedy has struck. They do not have any firm emergency management plan as is evident from the Naina Devi tragedy that the help reached the victims in couple of hours.

Since long we are preaching that Himachal and Himachalis need to unite and work with a strong bond as it is a small, unknown and also poor state. Instead of discussions on internet I guess it is time that we all unite and work together for better Himachal and make our voices heard to those who are sitting in their homes and are responsible for the disasters like this so that they can be avoided.

Photo by Yash.

An IT professional for 17 years, based in the US since the last 12 years. Founded NGO My Himachal and then Himachal Media Pvt. Ltd.. A Himachali forever. Always trying to bring together people whose hearts beat for the state.

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  1. says: Manender Singh Verma

    I fully agree with Avnish. Its a big shame on Government and Administration of Himachal. It is a well known fact that during Navratra’s, the number of devotees increase tremendously. The so called care-takers of institution should have taken the emergency response measure beforehand.

    Now I am pretty sure that game of allegations as it always will start rolling ball from one side to other. Instead of taking action, government bodies will blame each other for negligence, and worst thing, they will start blaming people for not following the standard procedure for The Darshan.

    People responsible should be brought to the court of law and should held accountable for there deeds.

    God bless the affected.

  2. says: Bhugol Chandel

    A terrible tragedy which was waiting to happen due to poor infrastructure, ill maintained facilities and no vision and care for human lives. The worst thing is that this is not the first time this has happened. The people who are responsible for taking measures and putting safeguards have learned nothing from the past experiences.

    There is nothing more to express. Everyone is going to be smart now and there would be countless solutions, but nothing is going to happen. Tragedy is onething, the worse is preparedness to deal with such incidents which can occur any time where so many people gather. But who cares? Life goes on. It is already moving in the name of Trust over the Fear where thousands people are flocking together everyday forgetting what has happened just yesterday?

    Let us prey to God to give strength to family members of these departed souls to bear their loss and may the departed souls rest in peace!

  3. says: Rakesh Bhardwaj

    I think it is marely cruel behaviour of police personal on duty. I have met an eye witness and he hv informed that after police started lathi charge people started running back making people fall,standing behind and crushed all of them to death…….Those involved should be punished heavily and they should accept their sin and GODDESS will punish them.
    Let us prey to God to give strength to family members of these departed souls to bear their loss and may the departed souls rest in peace!

  4. says: Sunesh Sharma

    3 rd Auguest was a black day. the conditions in Naina Devi was horrible. Administration is unable to manage the people. When people were dying the police personnels were beating them other side. it was brutish behaviour of administration I and I think every one who have emotions attachment to Himachal Pradesh and humity condemn the police behaviour. I think the state administration should have openly apologies for their misbehave.

  5. says: Anshul Sharma (Spyker)

    I think good has been very unfare with us because this traghedy happened in the Temple. I think God has given a signal of Pralay when earth will come to an end.

  6. It is time for people to fight for their rights. The fight for equal rights in Jammu is showing the right way. On one side, the secular governments of this country are collecting the funds from all the temples which run in to billions of rupees. A very small amount or I would say a negligible amount is spent on the upkeep and modernization of facilities in these temples.A large amount of money siphoned off to mosques and Haz pilgrimage and to other activities which are related no where to the cause for which we donate the funds in the temples. On one hand, in some of these communal (I say communal because it belongs to a certain community) pilgrimages, the government support is increasing every year where as the devotees are suffering from the ill maintenance of these facilities. Naina devi incident is one such example. To mention few of them, roads, accommodation, security and and other general facilities like hygiene and cleanliness.
    It is the time that we must fight autonomy of these pillars of faith. The Government must show its secularism in true spirit either by offering the autonomy to all these temples or they should control all the temples, mosques and churches in this country.
    Why does the Govt controls only temples? Why not mosques and churches?
    All the VIP/VVIP lines should be removed from from these temples. Because in a temple there is no VIP. All are equal in front of GOD. Therefore, the basic principal should be that no one will be given a special treatment in these places. As the temples belong to janta janardan or the believers.

  7. says: bhattathiri

    In this modern world the art of Management has become a part and parcel of
    everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory and in Government. In
    all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common
    purpose irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, management principles
    come into play through the management of resources, finance and planning,
    priorities, policies and practice. Management is a systematic way of
    carrying out activities in any field of human effort. Management need to
    focus more on leadership skills, e.g., establishing vision and goals,
    communicating the vision and goals, and guiding others to accomplish them.
    It also assert that leadership must be more facilitative, participative and
    empowering in how visions and goals are established and carried out. Some
    people assert that this really isn’t a change in the management functions,
    rather it’s re-emphasizing certain aspects of management.

  8. says: kishan sanku

    the whole think is really pathatic..all this happened due to ignorance of governament authorities. they all are useing outdated principles….and on the other hand westren countries are useing advanced studies such as crowd safety management system for small group gatherings but where as in india there is no sign of such systems inplemented….which is really a pathatic issue……now atleast govt has to take nessary steps to implement management stystems……

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