The health of Santosh Trivedi, a priest from Kedarnath shrine, worsened today and he had to be airlifted to AIIMS Rishikesh. Mr. Trivedi had been protesting since last few months against a law hat facilitated the takeover of Char Dham and 51 other Hindu temples by the govt of Uttarakhand. This Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019, which created a Board that now controls the temples, has been opposed by the priests of Char Dham.
Santosh Trivedi had started a unique way of peaceful protest against the Act on June 12. He would sit outside the temple bare chested and meditate as a mark of protest. However, the government has not responded to the protests. With the temperature falling in hills of Uttarakhand, it was certain that at some point his health would deteriorate.
The Kedarnath Tirtha Purohit Mahasabha, the body of priests agitating against the Act has threatened to intensify its protests across all the Char Dham shrines, if anything untoward happens to Trivedi. Santosh was airlifted by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), to Dehradun and shifted to AIIMS, Rishikesh with complaint of stomach pain.
The major bone of contention is the hereditary rights of priests of the shrines. The act extinguishes most of these rights that they have kept for generations by serving in extreme climate. A PIL was filed in the Nainital High Court by Subramanian Swamy against the Act, but the court ruled in favour of the state in June.
Hindu Post had covered the issue in a previous article. We had seen that control of temples by the government was neither justified nor in interest of Hindu community at large. We had also provided a point by point refutation of arguments of the supporter of govt control of temples.
The intransigence of the government in this issue will not only hurt Hindu Dharma but also its own political interests. It is time, the government initiates a discussion with all the stakeholders and finds a solution acceptable to all parties. A framework in which all sections of the Hindu society can participate in the temple administration will not only strengthen the cohesion in the society, but also become an example for other states to follow.
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