Hindu clergy, Uttarakhand govt at loggerheads over VVIP prayer at Kedarnath

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple

Dehra Dun : With both the ‘teerth purohit’ (Hindu clergy) of Uttarakhand and the state government not willing to yield and adopting an adamant attitude, there could be a face off between the two on Wednesday, when the proposed VVIP pooja is to be held at the Kedarnath shrine at the instance of chief minister Vijay Bahuguna.

What has antagonized the Hindu clergy is the fact that the shrine will remain out of bounds for them and only the handful number of VVIPs for whom the special prayer session is being held will be airlifted to the shrine. What has further irked them and the residents of villages in the immediate vicinity is that an unofficial curfew has been clamped in the region.

If reports appearing in a section of the press are to be believed the villagers living in the immediate vicinity too are not being allowed to proceed beyond Phata by the battery of cops that have been posted to prevent the villagers and clergy from reaching the shrine. The people living beyond Phata are being asked to show i-cards and address proofs before allowing them through.

The rigid stature adopted by the ‘teerth purohit’, who claim that they have not only been ignored on the auspicious occasion of the prayers being conducted again after a break of over 80 days at the sanctum sanctorum of the Kedarnath shrine but force is being used to keep them at bay, to reach the shrine for the VVIP pooja could result in a face-off between them and the government.

Sources close to them said that come what may they will leave for foot for the shrine well in advance as there is no motor or proper pedestrian route made so far. “We will take the less traveled route through the forest and somehow reach the shrine and be there for the pooja, for after all over the years it is we who have been performing the pooja and other rites at the shrine”, they claimed.

Asserting that this is perhaps for the first time in the history of the Kedarnath shrine that prayers are being held under police protection and the common man, including the pilgrims, are being restrained from going to the temple and offering prayers, they questioned the very logic of starting the prayers when the temple still remains beyond reach of the devotees.

Meanwhile, former Uttarakhand chief minister and senior BJP leader Maj Gen (retd) B C Khanduri has come out strongly against the state government for making more efforts in holding the VVIP pooja that on the rehabilitation of the affected people of the June 16-17 floods that devastated the region, leaving thousands dead, missing and homeless.

He claimed that even after nearly three months of the tragedy, a large number of people were still taking shelter in schools and leading miserable lives in crowded rooms but the state government remained ignorant to their needs. Many villages still remain cut off as the roads that were washed away are yet to be restored, but the priority seems to be the VVIP prayer rather than the rehabilitation process, he added.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

1 Comment

  • The Chief Minister should really get himself checked – with this scale of a disaster he and his government has the audacity to even propose – God only save the state as the government has sold its brains and morality/responsibility along with people’s rights

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