Tempering with religious traditions for political gain
Puja started at Kedarnath Temple
Hindus world over are displeased with the manner the Congress Government of Uttarakhand headed by Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna attempted to mislead them on Kedarnath Temple puja issue.
September 11 was not the auspicious time for conducting the puja, as the shrine’s Rawal and the rest other religious community including sadhus, priests and Brahmins were unanimously protesting against it. Still Bahuguna proceeded with the puja. This was for the first time in the famed shrines’ history, when puja was conducted without priests and devotees. This was a sarkari puja, nothing else.
Religious leaders say that this puja could not be conducted during the Chaturmas. The CM Bahuguna should have noted the religious community’s overwhelming sentiment. The ministers and officials heaped insult on Shri Kedarnath temple's Rawal Shri Bhima Shnakar Ling, and restricted movement even of the local people in the area. The Government had made curfew-like situation in the Kedar valley on the occasion of puja. “I was carrying relief material to the disaster-stricken villagers towards Triyuginarayan, prior to September 11, when I met first barrier erected by the police at village Phata. Cops wasted my time there, but later on let me proceed to my destination after extracting an undertaking from me that I would not venture towards Sri Kedarnath shrine. Then, I met another barrier at village Sitapur, the cops there refused to relent who wasted my two hours further. Later, they sent two cops with me in our vehicle to ensure that I would not go towards the shrine. However, there was no prior announcement about the restriction on the people’s movement in the region,” says RSS Uttarakhand Prant Karyavah Shri Laxmi Prasad Jaiswal while talking to Organiser.
He further said “Here I would like to stress that the situation en route to Kedarnath shrine is as gloomy today as it was on June 17-18. The corpses are still lying strewn there, many of them have reduced to mere rotten skeletons, from which sharp malodour is emanating polluting the environs. People at Tonsi village near Triyuginarayan are witness to the horrific scenes of vultures and other wild animals feasting incessantly on these corpses. I’ve written an article in August last depicting the Kedarnath situation published in the Independence Day Special issue of Organiser dated 18.8.2013, the same situation still prevails there, with no improvement during the period.” Shri Jaiswal added.
Political observers feel CM Bahuguna was hurrying for puja to draw first installment of financial aid amounting to Rs. 1188 crore from the Central Government, out of the total relief fund of Rs.13,825 crore granted by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for which showing normalcy restored in the area was the pre-requisite. Another important reason for conducting puja was to reassure local business community, pilgrimage and tourism industry in the state and in rest of country about gaining normalcy, from whom the CM is under tremendous pressure. These business and industry men also constitute a sizeable vote bank.
However, unnecessary haste in puja has boomranged, as sharp opposition to the move came from ranks of Congress party itself, main Opposition party BJP and the religious community.
Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokheriyal Nishank jeered at Bahuguna’s puja saying it was by Bahuguna, for Bahuguna and from Bahuguna.
He claimed to have seen more than 150 corpses reduced to mere skeletons, strewn all around en route to Kedarnath. These hapless disaster victims had died due to starvation, excessive cold and diseases. State BJP President Shri Teerath Singh Rawat said the Government’s focus should have been on providing relief material to the local people, instead of indulging in gimmickry and shenanga-nism. He said through opening puja, the CM was trying to appease the local business and tourism community. Local people are still deprived of food items, medicines, clothes and other basic amenities. They are still living in rescue camps provided by the local administration and in school buildings. These distressed villagers, however, could have protested against the Government’s move to organise a ‘sarkari’ puja that was the main reason their movement was restricted in the Kedarnath valley, Shri Rawat added.
6812 still missing in Kedarnath devastation
In an affidavit filed a few days ago before the Uttarakhand Human Right Commission headed by Justice Virendra Jain in Dehradun, DIG Sanjay Gunjiyal admitted that following Sri Kedarnath devastation a total of 1786 FIRs were filed in the entire state about disappearance of 6812 victims. The affidavit added whereas 529 bodies have been recovered from the Kedar valley alone, and a total of 628 bodies were recovered in the entire state including Kumaon region. Of them, 28 bodies were recovered in Chamoli district, 28 in Hardwar district, nine each in Pauri Garhwal and Almora districts, six each in Uttarkashi and Dehradun, and five in Tehri district. However, no FIRs were filed in connection with the death of sadhus on hermitage in the region. A vast majority of corpses, however, are yet to be identified, the DIG added.
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Shri Suhas Hiremath visited flood hitted Uttarakhand on September 3 to supervise and apprise personally the relief work being done by RSS under the banner of Uttaranchal Daivi Apada Peedit Sahayata Samiti.
Shri Hiremath started his tour of the State in the morning of September 3 from Dehradun to Koti colony Tehri Garhwal. He inaugurated a hostel there for the children of natural disaster area of Kedar Ghat i.e. Ukhimath Tehsil of Rudraprag in the premises of Saraswati Shisu Mandir.
In course of second phase of the disaster management and rehabilitation programme UDAPSS, an outfit of RSS has undertaken various progra-mmes mainly in the field of education, health and self employment besides distribution of essential consumable goods i.e. grain, clothes, solar lamp etc.
Till the date, the projects that have been started by Sangh are three hostels at Guptakashi, Koticolony and Dehradun. Altogether 92 students from class 6 to Graduation have been accommodated in these hostels. Their boarding, lodging, education and clothing are free.
To cater the needs of health 3 primary medical centre have been started at Narayankoti, Nagjagai and Anderwari village of Ukhimath Tehsil where from free medical aids are being provided to the villagers of disaster affected area.
From the point of view of self employment 3 ladies sewing training centre at Triyuginaryan, Chandrapuri, and Dadoli village of Ukhimath Tehsil have been inaugurated last week by Pujya Swamy Prem Vivekanad, Trustee and Director of Sadhana Kendra Ashram, Dumet (Vikas Nagar) Dehradun and Shri Lakshmi Prasad Jaiswal Prant Karyawah of RSS. Shri Sunil Kumar Shah Prant Sewa Pramukh was also present on this occasion. During this weak Computer Training centre at two places Triyuginarayan and Raulenk Village have also been inaugurated by Swamy Prem Vivekanand and Shri Jaiswal. In very near future, one more Medical Centre would be started at village Uniana and mobile dispensary van will also be provided for entire Ukhimath Tehsil equipped with doctor, Pharmacist and medical equipments.
Shri Hiremath visited all the three hostels, talked to students, addressed workers meeting at Guptakashi and gave various instructions to the activists. He also visited some of the worst affected spots and met some families highly affected during the disaster. He finished his tour on September 5.
Pujya Swami Vivekananda has also offered his very helping hand in this disaster management and rehabilation project started by RSS Sadhna Kendra Ashram and has donated ten computer systems along with invertors, printer, etc. ten sewing machines with all accessories i.e electric press, scissor, cloths, etc. Besides this 1,800 solar lamps have also been distributed by him with collaboration of RSS workers in 40 villages where previously they were not distributed by any agency. Still many villages of this Tehsil and district are in complete darkness because there are no electricity, communication and Transport system.
Sadhna Kendra Ashram has also decided to distribute a monthly scholarship of Rs. 1,000 per student who is not in a position to pull on expenses of education. The RSS and Sadhna Kendra in future will also continue to render assistance in various ways.