Shocking videos of police and government officials arguing with a mahant and manhandling him at the Hanuman temple in Anjanadri, Karnataka have gone viral on social media. The seer was stopped from performing puja citing the visit of the governor and another pujari was appointed for the occasion. The seer argued that it was against court orders and police manhandled him when he refused to leave.
The Anjanadri Parvat in Gangavathi town in Koppal district, Karnataka is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman ji. The temple is controlled by the Muzrai department. On December 9, Karnataka governor Thawar Chand Gehlot visited the Hanuman temple in Anjanadri hills, believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman ji. The temple committee appointed a different archaka than the ones doing puja regularly, for the governor’s visit.
Mahant Vikayadas Baba who regularly offers puja was reportedly stopped from doing it. The mahant is head of the trust that was managing temples for nearly 100 years before the government took over.
He objected to the arrangement made by the temple committee accusing the government of going against court order by appointing a pujari from outside just for the governor’s visit.
Speaking to Udayavani he said, “As per the Dharwad Bench of the Karnataka High Court, the temple priest is appointed for the Anjanadri Hills. By appointing an outside priest for the Governor’s visit, the temple committee has disobeyed the court orders”. As the mahant wouldn’t allow the Assistant Commissioner and the Executive Officer to have their way, he was manhandled and forcibly removed by the cops.
Vishnu Shankar Jain, the lawyer fighting on behalf of Kashi Vishwanath temple, tweeted that the seer and his ancestors have shebait rights over the temple despite the fact that the temple was taken over illegally. He also said that the take over has been challenged in court and yet disregarding the court’s interim orders, the traditional pujaris were denied access to worship.
The temple was taken over by HD Kumaraswamy government in 2018 based on the district police’s recommendation. Allegedly there were issues between two factions on the rights to perform puja and police thought it would “take communal colour” and cause “unpleasant experiences to devotees and law and order problems”. At that time Hindu Samrat Dharmik Horata(HSDH) had opposed this decision and threatened to go to the courts against it.
HSDH president Atul Kumar said, “Officials should have called a meeting to resolve the dispute between the two factions over the right to perform pooja. Instead, they have decided to take over the temple. This has shocked the Hindu community”. A similar situation prevails now with the BJP government, which promised to free temples, is seen manhandling mahants and depriving them of their rights to perform puja.
It should be noted that earlier this year, mahant Vidyadas Baba accused the government officials of carrying out illegal and immoral activities in the temple. Alleging corruption he said, “Tehsildar and Revenue Inspector have joined hands to carry out many illegal activities at the pilgrimage centre. A parking fee has been charged illegally at the foot of the hill. The Revenue Inspector has given the contract to one of his relatives”.
At that time also he accused the government officials of appointing pujaris from outside against the court order and “trying to take off huge money offered by devotees”. Many who watched the videos of the mahant being manhandled have tagged Karnataka CM BS Bommai to take action against the concerned officials and release the temple from government control as promised in the manifesto.