Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey
THE local administration in Prayag has made a mess of arrangements in the Mahakumbh. A number of saints and seers have complained that the Mela Administration has allocated the same plot of land to two or more akharas. For example, one plot bearing No 25 in Sector 10 at Mori Road, South Patari to Sanatan Sanstha. The related papers were also handed over in this connection. When Sanatan Sanstha workers went to the place, some other organisation had already occupied the plot. The local administration gave evasive answers. The reckless officials of the Kumbh Mela Sector 10 said on being contacted by the saints, “Mori Road area is not under our jurisdiction. You go to Sector 9 or Sector 5 and enquire.” When seekers went to both the Sectors, they were told by the Sector Supervisors that Mori Road did not fall in their jurisdiction.
Other akharas and organisations are getting similar experience. Many of them told this correspondent that the same plot of land has been allocated to two akharas and organisations. They complained the ruling Samajwadi Party government has made a mess of the arrangements and the administration is creating anarchy in the planning of religious festival of Hindus.
When enquiry was made with the office of Kumbh Mela Planning, the officers said that papers given to Sanatan Sanstha were proper; but there was encroachment on the land and from the following day, administration was to undertake a drive to remove the encroachments. The land would be handed over when encroachments were removed within 2-3 days.
The seers alleged that the Samajwadi Party government is trying to create rift between Hindu organisations by allocating same plots of land to akharas and saints. Various representatives of religious leaders, Saints, akharas and Shankaracharyas are accusing the Government of committing such mistakes on purpose.
In an appeal made to the Kumbh Mela authorities, Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth Badrikashram Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati said they should provide facilities like allotment of land keeping in mind the stature of saints and refrain from working under any influence.
On the other hand, adopting a strong posture, Shankaracharya of Kashi Sumeru Peeth, Swami Narendranand Saraswati, has accused Swami Avimukteshwaranand, the disciple of Swami Swaroopananda of Sharda Peeth of grabbing land in Mela area in violation of set conventions. He sought intervention of the state government to resolve the dispute, failing which the consequences would be disastrous.
Those present with the saints said that the dispute had risen in the wake of allotment of land sanctioned under the quota of Swami Hari Chaitanya Brahmachari to Swami Avimuktesh waranand in contravention of existing traditions. A similar row had erupted during the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, where the administration had to step in to sort out the matter, they said.
The two threatened to pull out of the Kumbh Mela if the crisis was not handled promptly and said Acharya Bada, another frontal organisation of saints would also follow suit. When contacted, president of Acharya Bada, Swami Rameshwar Acharya, said, “Such practices are common and we have always been at the receiving end of decisions taken by Mela authorities on all occasions since Ardh Kumbh 2007. Call it Afsarshahi, rajshahi or rajniti, the whole issue is unfortunate, he said.
On the issue of pulling out of the Mela along with the two Shankaracharyas in the event of a deadlock, he said, “This would be decided unanimously by members and office-bearers of Ramanuj Nagar Prabandh Samiti, the umbrella organisation of the Acharya Bada.