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Chetana Hansraj | HJS Online | Pune | July 15, 2018:: In Civil Appeal no. 10620/2013, Subramanian Swamy Vs State of Tamil Nadu and others, a landmark judgment by the Supreme court has made it clear that the takeover of the administration of religious endowment by any state cannot be of a permanent enduring nature and should co-terminus to the temple administration with the removal of the consequences of mal-administration. Article 26(d) of Indian Constitution have provided right to every person to protect the “Rights of ‘denominational religious institutions’. Still, the Government is bent on hurting the religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees by taking over the temples. According to the judgement of the Supreme Court, the attempts of the Government to take over the temple is unconstitutional. Therefore, unanimous demands were raised in the meeting of ‘Mandir And Dharmik Sanstha Mahasangh’ held to oppose the take over of temples by the Government, – the Government should hand over all temples taken over by the Government back to devotees, the Government should not make whimsical alterations in traditional religious practices in temples by continuing the tradition of hereditary priests, etc.
In the meeting held at Ajinkya Meeting Hall in Pune, President of Savarkar Kranti Mandir Bhagvatacharya V. N. Utpat from Pandharpur, Mahant Mavajinath Maharaj from Tuljapur, traditional priest of Solapur’s Sri Siddheshwar Devasthan Shri. Anand Habbu, Shripujak of Sri Mahalakshmi Devasthan, Kolhapur Shri. Gajanan Munishwar, President of Sri Ballaleshwar Devsthan Adv. Dhananjay Dharap, former president of Jejuri Devasthan Dr. Prasad Khandagle, Mandhardevi Devsthan’s Shri. Ravindra Khirsagar, Ganapatipule Devasthan’s Shri. Dinesh Bapat, Dharmapracharak of Sanatan Sanstha Shri. Abhay Vartak, West Maharashtra Co-ordinator of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti Shri. Manoj Khadye and Maharashtra and Chattisgarh state organizer for Hindu Janajagruti Samiti Shri. Sunil Ghanvat among others were present in the meeting.
The Government is only eyeing the money in the temples and taking over of the Hindu temples in the name of better management to rehabilitate dissatisfied political leaders. The Government has usurped Shri Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur, Shri Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, Shri Bhavani Temple in Tuljapur, Shri Saibaba Temple in Shirdi, 3,067 temples in Kolhapur, Sangli and Sindhudurg districts under Pashchim Maharashtra Devasthan Vyavasthapan Samiti. Huge financial mismanagement and corruption have taken place in these temples taken over by the Government. Some examples of these are given below.
1. Pashchim Maharashtra Devasthan Vyavasthapan Samiti : Out of 25,000 acres of land with this committee, 8,000 acres of land has disappeared. No records are found about ornaments of the temples; no audit was carried out in last 25 years.
2. Shri Vithhal-Rukmini Temple Committee, Pandharpur : The land of 1,200 acres belonging to this Temple is not under the ownership of the temple for last 25 years; a revenue of a single rupee is not accrued to the temple from this land; the cow-lineage animals in Goshala of the temple were sold to butchers.
3. Shri Bhavani Temple, Tuljapur : A CID inquiry is in progress in a vast scam that took place in the Temple Committee.
A similar state of affairs is prevalent in all other temples taken over by the Government. The money donated by the devotees has been used not for spreading Dharma but in the interest of Muslim and Christian communities. Despite the corruption worth crores of rupees due to mismanagement in temples, the Government is ignoring it conveniently. It has now issued orders to take over Shri Shanaishwar Temple at Shanishingnapur. It is also eyeing to take over Mumba Devi Temple in Mumbai.
In the temples taken over by the Government, the sanctity which is expected to be preserved is not maintained and the traditional religious practices which are in vogue for past so many years are scrapped. The paid priests who are ignorant of the Scriptures are appointed by dismissing the hereditary priests. God only knows how much knowledge about religious rituals and traditions these priests appointed according to the Government rules possess ! The women priests at Pandharpur deputed to worship Goddess Rukmini are ignorant about the mode of removing tilak, they have removed the tilak on the forehead of Goddess by scrapping it. All dignitaries present at that time expressed very strong resentment on this incident. Temples are the centres of Chaitanya and Sattvikata. To preserve the Sattvikata, it is necessary to protect the sanctity of the temples. If the management of the temples is carried out in such a disorganised manner, God will definitely be displeased with the concerned. Therefore, a demand was made that the hereditary priests and traditional religious practices should be continued in the temples. Similarly, the so-called secular Government is only taking over the temples without giving any thought to taking over mosques and churches. This is injustice and social discrimination heaped on Hindu community which was protested in the meeting.
1. The Government should appoint a Magisterial inquiry committee to conduct a thorough inquiry in the context of mismanagement in the various temples.
2. Those responsible for scams in the temples should be immediately arrested and offences should be registered against them.
3. The property of those office bearers and staff convicted in the scams should be confiscated thereby recovering the amount involved in the scam.
4. All temples taken over by the Government should be handed over back to the devotees.
5. Retain the tradition of hereditary priests.
6. Do not change the traditional religious practices whimsically.
This is just the beginning of the opposition to the Government’s taking over of the temples. If the government doesn’t take its cognisance and take proper action, the devotees will not only give a legal fight against the anti-Hindu and anti-dharma acts of the Government, but all Hindu devotees will also take to streets and launch intense agitations, warned the Mandir And Dharmik Sanstha Mahasangh.