Gangotri, Yamunotri priests burn minister's effigy over Devasthanam Board issue

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Uttarkashi, Jun 8 (PTI) The priests of Gangotri and Yamunotri temples on Tuesday burnt an effigy of Tourism and Culture Minister Satpal Maharaj and demanded his ouster from the cabinet to vent their anger over his alleged remarks ruling out a rethink on the Devasthanam Board.

The teerth-purohits (priests) of Gangotri, who have long been demanding dissolution of the board, burnt the minister's effigy in Mukhba area shouting slogans against him for his alleged remarks and demanding his ouster from the cabinet.

Mukhba is the place where the presiding deity of Gangotri temple Goddess Ganga is worshipped during winter when the Himalayan temple remains closed.

It is for the first time in the history of Gangotri that the effigy of a minister has been burnt, Ganga Purohit Sabha president Pawan Semwal claimed.

The Devasthanam Board controls the management of 51 temples in Uttarakhand, including the famous four Himalayan temples also called 'Chardham'.

Shri Panch Mandir Samiti Gangotri's joint secretary Rajesh Semwal said when Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has himself said he would reconsider the board and remove the management of temples from its control, then, who is Satpal Maharaj to deny a rethink on it.

Terming his remark as highly condemnable, he asked the minister who is also a spiritual teacher to withdraw his statement.

The Gangotri temple committee and its priests have already threatened to start an agitation from June 11 if the Devasthanam Board is not dissolved.

They have announced that they will worship Goddess Ganga by tying black bands on June 11 and follow it up with a relay fast from June 21 if their demand was not conceded.

Purohits of Yamunotri temple led by Yamunotri Mandir Samiti secretary Suresh Uniyal also burnt an effigy of the minister condemning his remarks.

The Devasthanam Board was constituted through a legislation in the state Assembly during the tenure of former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on the plea that it was necessary for better management of temples.

However, teerth-purohits have always been opposing the board.

CM Tirath Singh Rawat had hinted at a rethink on the board during the Kumbh saying it will be done by taking all stakeholders into confidence. PTI CORR ALM HDA HDA