Online news channel!

Tag: temple

Mumbai’s Krishna Mandir to get a new look

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the next two years, devotees who usually visit Shri Krishna Temple in Sion for Krishna Janmasthami will have to visit Ashraya in Navi Mumbai.The temple managed by the 90-year-old Bombay South Kanara Brahmin’s Association (BSKBA), will soon undergo renovation, giving the temple a new south Indian style of architecture. The association members have planned to relocate the existing deity of Lord Krishna on December 31 to Navi Mumbai for the next two years.Speaking about the new structure of the temple and the Lord Krishna idol which was kept in the temple since 1962, Suresh Rao, president of BSKBA, said, “The idol was donated by a Rajasthani sculptor who made the idol in Rajasthan. Most of the south Indian temples have similar structure but the architectural designs depend upon which deity’s idol is kept inside the temple. The temple is a part of a building right now, but, soon we will have a sanctum sanctorum (garbha gudhi) where only priest will be allowed to enter and main hall (mukha mantapa) with around 3500 ft space to conduct various religious function.”According to the history, the association was formed by the Kanara Brahmins who resided in the city for the cultural and social meet-ups and later made a temple adjoining their association building. Currently there are approximately 4,600 members.While the temple was made up of plaster of paris in the past, the new structure will be built from black stones. Giving more information, Rao added, “The structures of the temple will be made in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka by the sculptor and later on will be assembled here. There will be approximately 11 steps — also known as gopuram, on the dome which will have architectural designs of various god and goddess.”To mark this occasion and to give a grand farewell to the Lord, a colourful procession of the idol Krishna will take place from Gokul hall with a group of 70 artists performing various south Indian folk dances like Huli Vesha, Betala, Bhooth Kola Vesha, Keelu Kudure, Tattiraya, famous drummists (Chandai) from Kerala along with large number of members & devotees.“We have made a temporary temple in Ashrayas, a senior citizens’s home of BSKB Association. We will be carrying out a procession in nearby areas at Sion and later on relocate the idol. There are 70 artist who will be travelling from Mangalore.”

It’s raining cash | Watch: Audience showers Rs 40 lakh on Gujarati folk singers

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-02:05pm , Navsari , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when people are facing a cash crunch, residents in Gujarat’s Navsari district, showered Rs 40 lakh on folk singers during a musical event.The event was organised by the Shri Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia Samaj on Sunday night.The audience showered Rs 10 and Rs 20 currency notes on folk singers Farida Mir and Mayabai Ahir.The organizers, however, claimed that the money collected during the program will be used for social work.Earlier, new Rs 2000 notes were showered on folk singer Kirtidan Gadhvi in the Palanpur area of Gujarat’s Banaskantha district. The event was organised by the Mukteshwar Mahadev Temple.

The romance in the ruins of Hampi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hampi mesmerized me completely. A surreal landscape defined by rocks, gigantic boulders, craggy hills, exquisite temples and the Tungabhadra River flowing through it all like mercurial silver, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Karnataka seems like Nature’s beauty on steroids. And even though most of Hampi’s shrines and fortifications are crumbling edifices today—desecrated by Muslim invaders in the battle of Talikotain in 1565—there’s romance in its ruins. Each and every landmark here is a photo op, especially its most iconic shrine— the Virupaksha Temple. Intriguingly, the temple is fully intact even today and has been used for worship since its inception in the 7th century AD. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as ‘Virupaksha’, and the consort of the local goddess Pampa, the sprawling shrine nestles at the foot of the Hemakuta Hill. “Once a tiny temple, it grew into a huge complex under the Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya. Later, other Vijaynagara rulers invited the world’s top craftsmen, sculptors and architects by leveraging their bilateral trade relations with other countries to further enhance the temple’s beauty,” our guide Ravi informs us as we ooh and aah over Virupaksha’s elegant carvings and sky-scraping gopurams. The ceilings of the Ranga Mandapa showcase the rich panels of Vijayanagara paintings. The Nandi Mandapa—a square pavilion open on all sides—has an imposing statue of Nandi. The temple’s short circular pillars, doorways and ceilings are a sight to behold. Along the temple’s eastern cloister, a flight of stairs leads to an underground chamber which houses the shrine of ‘Pataleswara’, another of Shiva’s avatars. Further east is the shrine of the planetary deities where images of the Nava Grahas are arranged on an elevated platform.Surrounding Shiva’s shrines are those of his consorts—Goddess Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. Story goes that Sati, Brahma’s granddaughter was so keen to marry Siva that she did penance for him in the jungles. Impressed with her devotion, Siva married Sati and they lived at Kailasa. However Sati’s father, Daksha, was miffed. So to insult Siva, he conducted a yajna inviting all gods but him. Sati gate crashed with Siva but Daksha insulted both of them. Humiliated, Sati jumps into the yajna. An enraged Siva performs one of his most fearful dances—the rudra tandava— carrying Sati’s body. Different pieces of her body fell in 51 places, of which one was Pampa. With time, Pampa became Hampa, and Hampi. All 51 spots are now pilgrim centres, the most prominent being the Virupaksha Temple.The Virupaksha temple’s main gopuram—the Kanakagiri gopura—leads to a small enclosure with subsidiary shrines and eventually to the river Tungabhadra. Interestingly, part of the river also flows along the temple’s terrace before plunging to the temple-kitchen and then petering out through the outer court. Another speciality is the small dark chamber behind the sanctum sanctorum, where the shadow of the main gopurum appears inverted because of the light passing through a tiny slit in the wall. The play of light makes it seem as if it is a giant-stone made pin-hole camera with the wall acting as a screen. After viewing the main shrines, we gravitate towards the temple’s main courtyard where the in-house elephant blesses us by patting our heads with its trunk, in lieu of a donation of course! We scramble for selfies. Our 2 hours temple tour over, we exit the complex. As I turn to look over my shoulder at the temple one last time, its beauty spellbinds me yet again. The entire building is bathed in the orange luminescence of the setting sun making it appear even more ethereal if possible!

Trithankara devotees flock to 2300-year-old Bheru Bhagwan idol

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Back in 1995, it took the determination of just two devotees to build an entire temple complex. Today, the Govandi Jain Temple has become a pilgrimage of sorts, attracting devotees from across the country. The big draw at the temple is the 2300-year-old idol of Neminath Bhagwan, the 22nd Tirthankara of Jains, which was sourced from a cave temple in Patan, Gujarat at the time of consecration of the temple.Till 1995, a makeshift prayer hall stood at the spot near Govandi station, when Roopchand Rathod set out to give Govandi’s 50-odd Jain families their own temple. Rathod contributed the land for the temple and he found a benefactor in Gowalia Tank-based Chinubhai Chimanlal Shah who alone offered Rs 25 lakh to build the temple. “The bhoomi poojan of the temple was done on the morning of December 6, 1992 — the very day the Babri Masjid was demolished,” says Manoj Rathod, son of late Roopchand RathodAfter months of scouting for the perfect idol under the guidance of Jain Acharya Yashodevsuriji Maharaj, they found a historic idol of Neminath Bhagwan at Patan in Gujarat. “The idol, excavated from an underground cave, belongs to the Sampratikaal Raja’s era according to the Jain philosophy and was donated by the Patan Jain Sangh for Govandi temple,” says Kalpesh Shah, son of late-Chinubhai, adding that this is the only ancient idol in the city. Emperor Samprati was the grandson of Emperor Ashoka, who ruled during 200BC and built thousands of Jain temples across his kingdom, including temples at Viramgam and Palitana.Every other Jain temple in the city has contemporary idols, carved by artisans from Jaipur.Besides the idol of Neminath Bhagwan, Govandi Jain temple also houses an idol of Sankeshwar Parshwanath and an idol of Bheru Bhagwan, which has gained a reputation of fulfilling wishes of the devotees. “It’s become a legend of sorts that if one prays before Bheruji’s idol for five consecutive Sundays, their wish gets fulfilled,” says Rathod, adding that the faith of the devotees has been increasing each passing year.

How Kerala’s Kodinhi village was saved from communal riots after the killing of a Muslim convert

Faisal, a 32-year-old Muslim convert, was hacked to death in Kodinhi, a sleepy village in Kerala’s Malappuram district last month. Faisal — Anil Kumar before switching to Islam — was allegedly murdered by RSS workers at 5 am on 19 November, while he was on his way to the neighbouring Tirurangadi railway station to receive his in-laws.

Faisal had embraced Islam six months ago in Saudi Arabia, where he was working as a driver. His wife, Jesna (formerly Priya), two sons and a daughter, followed suit a week before his murder. He had been receiving death threats ever since he came home for a vacation in August this year. And he was murdered a day before he was to return to his workplace in Saudi Arabia. Police sources said Faisal was killed by a gang with the support of his relatives, as they feared he would convert more family members to Islam.

The news of the killing spread fast, and thousands converged at Kodinhi, 25 kilometres west of the district headquarters at Malappuram.

Many people converged to pay respects at Faisal's graveMany people converged to pay respects at Faisal's grave

Many people converged to pay respects at Faisal’s grave

The situation was tense and everyone feared retaliatory action against Hindus, a minority in the village. Members of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of right-wing Muslim outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), visited the village. And even as Faisal’s coffin was being carried to the burial ground at the Kodinhi mosque, their Taqbir chants (Allah is the greatest) reverberated the air. The ruling CPM dispensation in the state has been at loggerheads with the SDPI, and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier described it as a “party that trains people to commit murder”.

Peace keepers

But when the situation threatened to get out of hand, Kodinhi found its saviours in the mosque committee and the Imam (the person who heads the prayers in the mosque). The mosque committee acted quickly and called for an immediate meeting of all Muslim organisations to chalk out plans. “We wanted to preserve communal harmony in Kodinhi. We also offered help for the police, as we knew it was difficult to control the 10,000-odd crowd who came to attend the funeral,” said PV Komukkutty Haji, one of the two secretaries of the committee.

The Muslim-majority Kodinhi village is part of Nannambra Grama Panchayath. It has 3,000 Muslim families and less than 200 Hindu families. “We decided to protect our Hindu brothers at any cost,” Haji said.

People visited Faisal's house to offer condolences and financial support to the bereavedPeople visited Faisal's house to offer condolences and financial support to the bereaved

People visited Faisal’s house to offer condolences and financial support to the bereaved

Imam PA Hyderali Faisi said he feared the worst when he saw a huge crowd where the body was kept for public viewing. “It prompted me to urge people to desist from fomenting trouble,” he said. “The charged up SDPI members tried to ignite communal passion by chanting Takbir. It was against our tradition. Devotees normally chant La Ilaha Illallah (There is absolutely no deity worthy of worship except Allah) peacefully while carrying the coffin.”

“I once again made an announcement through the public address system before leading the funeral prayer. I exhorted them to keep faith in the law enforcement agencies. I also told them to not to participate in protest marches that would affect the communal harmony of the village,” he added.

These efforts paid dividends, as Kodinhi remained calm.

Fearing non-cooperation from Kodinhi villagers, the SDPI was forced to shift its protest march to the nearby town of Chemmad. “By the grace of God, our village remained peaceful. We are happy to protect it from a disaster,” Haji said. “If we didn’t interfere, fundamentalist organisations would have influenced youngsters to create havoc,” Faisi added.

The Imam who announced people to exercise restraitnt after Faisal's murderThe Imam who announced people to exercise restraitnt after Faisal's murder

The Imam who announced people to exercise restraitnt after Faisal’s murder

Paying respects

The Kodinhi Juma Masjid is the oldest among 25 mosques in Kodinhi village. Built by Sufi saint Mambaram Thangal, the mosque is the preferred place for both Hindus and Muslims to settle disputes. “When people fail to solve disputes, they come to the mosque on Fridays to find a solution,” Faisi said.

But now, devotees flock to the mosque on other days as well; they arrive in groups and offer prayers near Faisal’s grave. They also visit his uncle’s home, where his mother, wife and three children stay currently, to offer condolence and financial support. For them, Faisal is a martyr who gave his life for Islam, and they consider it their duty to pray for his departed soul.

A few days after Faisal’s killing, his mother, Minimol, also embraced Islam and took the name Jameela. “My son lost his life only because he embraced Islam. So, I too decided to follow his path. Moreover, I don’t want to leave my daughter-in-law and children alone,” said the grieving mother said. “I had planned to convert to Islam a few months ago. But I waited to get permission from my daughters. Faisal’s killing forced me to take this decision quickly.”

Faisal's mother Minimol, who also embraced Islam and took the name JameelaFaisal's mother Minimol, who also embraced Islam and took the name Jameela

Faisal’s mother Minimol, who also embraced Islam and took the name Jameela

Faisal’s murder had shocked villagers, cutting across religious lines. Devayani, who is busy preparing for a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, said she knew Faisal since childhood. “I was shocked to hear about his death. He didn’t do anything wrong. People have the right to believe or choose their religion. I never imagined such a thing would happen in our village. I will visit his mother after coming back from Sabarimala,” she said.

She stays close to the Kurumba Bhagavathi Temple, which was built in the land donated by the Kodinhi Juma Masjid many years ago. Alikkutty Haji, who stays close to Faisal’s house, said some fringe elements tried to create tension in the village after the killing. “We should not blame the whole community for a crime done by a few people. Hindus and Muslims have been living in perfect harmony in Kodinhi. We will preserve it at any cost,” he said.

The Koorba Bhagawathi Temple situated at the land donated by the Kodinhi Juma MasjidThe Koorba Bhagawathi Temple situated at the land donated by the Kodinhi Juma Masjid

The Koorba Bhagawathi Temple situated at the land donated by the Kodinhi Juma Masjid

Police action

Meanwhile, the police arrested three RSS workers — Babu, Appu and Sudheesh — on Tuesday and Wednesday in connection with Faisal’s killing. They had earlier picked up eight RSS workers, including the victim’s bother-in-law Vinod, for hatching the conspiracy. More arrests are expected in the coming days.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 15:22 IST

Padmanabhaswamy Temple dress code: Kerala HC upholds ban on salwar kameez

In a judicial order which can potentially raise a storm across the country, a divisional bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday, ordered that women should not be allowed to wear salwar kameez and churidar inside the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, an ANI report said.

The latest order also states that the decision of the tantri or chief priest is final and the Temple Board does not have the authority to make the rules, a Mathrubhumi report said.

The order claims significance as last month, the temple executive officer of the renowned temple, broke age-old traditions allowing women wearing churidar or salwar kameez to enter the temple. This step was taken after the high court intervened following a petition by a woman devotee Riya Raj, The Indian Express reported.

The new petition was filed by private parties challenging the Kerala High Court’s November order.

According to this NDTV report, many members of the administrative board, which includes temple priests as well opposed the move and urged to continue the tradition.

However, just days after the November order, the new dress code was withdrawn by the temple board after protests from Hindu organisations, The Indian Express added.

According to traditions, only women wearing a saree, dhoti or long skirt are allowed to enter the temple premises, the NDTV report added.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 14:26 IST

BJP dares Mayawati to clear stand on Ram Temple construction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday called on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati to stop playing politics over the Ram Temple issue and dared her to clarify if she was for or against the construction of the controversial temple.BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said the BSP and Mayawati should answer through a press conference whether they are in support or against the establishment of the temple.”They should answer, are they against the temple? Do they not want the establishment of temple there? ‘Sappa’ and Mayawati should say. We challenge them to answer through a press conference whether they are in favour or against the establishment of temple. If they are in support, then why play politics on it? This matter is not of politics but of faith. People are trying to politics in the name of temple.” Sharma said.He further said that it is the manifesto of Bharatiya Janata Party that temple of Lord Ram should be made in Ayodhya.”Crores of people have faith in that location. Grandeur needs to be provided. One way is through court and the other is through the general committee. I think we will be successful in finding a way soon. For us the temple has always been a symbol of faith and all of us want the establishment of lord ram’s temple.” he added.Since 1993, December 6th has been associated more with the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya than with Dr Ambedkar, whose death anniversary is also observed on this day.Earlier this year, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister accused BJP of raking up Ram temple issue with an eye on 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.She attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said like Delhi and Bihar, voters in the state will not fall for his ‘Natak’.”People here will not fall in his trap and in UP elections too BJP will have to face defeat. As UP elections are near, Prime Minister Modi who has ignored the state except his constituency Varanasi has now woken up for its development.” She said.Mayawati futher alleged that the Centre was trying to flatter Dalit voters in the name of B.R. Ambedkar, the government has given full freedom to communal forces, leading to chaos in the country and playing with religious sentiments for votes will not work.”The Centre should have passed bill for reservation in promotions. It should have provided reservation to poor, who migrated to other castes and also upper caste poor by amendment in the Constitution. But it did nothing in this regard,” she added.

Sartaj Aziz not allowed to visit Golden Temple for security concerns: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing security reasons for not allowing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Indian government said that Islamabad has no reason to complain.According to sources, India extended conveniences keeping in mind security requirements, and therefore, Pakistan has no reason to complain.Sources were also of the view that India acted like a good host. Apart from extending tarmac access, giving additional rooms and providing armoured cars (not given to every foreign minister), their arrival was advanced in Amritsar by the more than twelve hours. Also, a fresh flight clearance was provided due to which Pakistan’s envoy could mark his presence at an official dinner on December 3.India even went to the extent of allowing the arrival and departure of Pakistan nationals, by air in Amritsar, which is not a designated airport for entry and exit.Pakistan, yesterday asserted that Aziz was neither allowed to visit the Golden Temple, nor was he allowed to speak to Pakistan media personnel present at the venue of the Heart of Asia Conference. Aziz was in India to participate in the Heart of Asia Summit held On December 4 in Amritsar.

India cites security concerns behind not allowing Sartaj Aziz to visit Golden Temple

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Sunday claimed that its Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani mediapersons at the hotel where he was staying, even as India said it was done due to security considerations.Sources in the Pakistani High Commission said Aziz had planned to visit the Golden Temple but was not allowed citing security concerns. Aziz, who arrived here last evening, wanted to interact with Pakistani mediapersons who accompanied him at the Radisson Blue hotel, the venue of the Heart of Asia conference, but was not given permission by security personnel, the sources said. Indian government sources said the permission was not given considering his security.”Security was very tight. Permission was not given due to security reasons. Security of our guests is paramount. India ensured no untoward incident took place,” they said. There was a tiff between Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and security personnel at the hotel after they denied Pakistani journalists entry to the venue. After security personnel denied permission for Aziz’s interaction with the Pakistani media at the conference venue, the Pakistani High Commission planned the interaction at another hotel but that too was not allowed, the Pakistani High Commission sources said. Later, Basit spoke to the Pakistani media. Aziz left for Pakistan by a special aircraft around 8 PM.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited the Golden Temple yesterday, while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited it today. Apparently, the parents of Hamid Ansari, who is at present lodged in a jail in Pakistan, were waiting for a meeting with Aziz at the Golden Temple.Mumbai-based Fauzia Ansari and her husband Nihal had come here, hoping to request Aziz to release their son from prison, who has already completed his jail term. Hamid, an IT engineer and MBA degree holder, had gone to Kabul on November 4, 2012 from where he reached Pakistan allegedly to meet a Pakistani girl he had been in touch with through e-mails.

Pakistan says Sartaj Aziz denied permission to visit Golden Temple; New Delhi cites security concerns

Amritsar: Pakistan on Sunday claimed that its Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was not allowed to visit the Golden Temple and speak to Pakistani mediapersons at the hotel where he was staying, even as India said it was done due to security considerations.

Sources in the Pakistani High Commission said Aziz had planned to visit the Golden Temple but was not allowed citing security concerns.

File image of Sartaj Aziz. AFPFile image of Sartaj Aziz. AFP

File image of Sartaj Aziz. AFP

Aziz, who arrived in Amritsar on Saturday evening, wanted to interact with Pakistani mediapersons who accompanied him at the Radisson Blue hotel, the venue of the Heart of Asia conference, but was not given permission by security personnel, the sources said.

Indian government sources said the permission was not given considering his security.

“Security was very tight. Permission was not given due to security reasons. Security of our guests is paramount. India ensured no untoward incident took place,” they said.

There was a tiff between Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and security personnel at the hotel after they denied Pakistani journalists entry to the venue.

After security personnel denied permission for Aziz’s interaction with the Pakistani media at the conference venue, the Pakistani High Commission planned the interaction at another hotel but that too was not allowed, the Pakistani High Commission sources said.

Later, Basit spoke to the Pakistani media. Aziz left for Pakistan by a special aircraft around 8 PM.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had visited the Golden Temple on Saturday, while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited it on Sunday. Apparently, the parents of Hamid Ansari, who is at present lodged in a jail in Pakistan, were waiting for a meeting with Aziz at the Golden Temple.

Mumbai-based Fauzia Ansari and her husband Nihal had come to Amritsar, hoping to request Aziz to release their son from prison, who has already completed his jail term. Hamid, an IT engineer and MBA degree holder, had gone to Kabul on 4 November, 2012 from where he reached Pakistan allegedly to meet a Pakistani girl he had been in touch with through e-mails.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 21:32 IST

Amritsar: Narendra Modi serves langar at Harmandir Sahib, first PM to do so

Amritsar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi served langar (community meal) in the hall of Golden Temple, stated to be the first premier of the country to do the service here.

Last night, Modi along with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani visited the Golden Temple, the revered seat of Sikh religion.

During the visit, Modi took a bucket in his hand and started serving people langar.

Amritsar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi serves langar during his visit at Golden temple on the eve of the Heart of Asia Conference, in Amritsar on Saturday. PTI Photo(PTI12_3_2016_000204B)Amritsar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi serves langar during his visit at Golden temple on the eve of the Heart of Asia Conference, in Amritsar on Saturday. PTI Photo(PTI12_3_2016_000204B)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi serves langar. PTI

“Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country who served langar to the devotees in the Golden Temple,” Chief Information Officer Gurbachan Singh told PTI here today.

“We were caught unawares…Modi saw devotees taking langar…went to the hall and started serving the langar to them,” he said.

He said though almost every Prime Minister during their visit to holy city came to the shrine to pay obeisance but except Modi no premier participated in the serving of langar.

Despite heavy security and thick cordon of SGPC task force, devotees got a chance to click selfies with Modi.

The gurdwara authorities were told that Modi and Ghani might partake langar during their visit. The leaders paid obeisance at the temple wearing caps.

Singh said while non-Sikhs can wear caps at the holy shrine, Sikhs have to cover their heads with a piece of cloth if they have shaved off their hair.

The prime ministers who have visited the Golden Temple are Indira Gandhi, VP Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, HD Deve Gowda, Inder Kumar Gujral and Manmohan Singh.

LK Advani had also paid obeisance at the holy shrine when he was Deputy Prime Minister of the country.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 12:59 IST

Kerala: LDF govt cancels order for Aranmula airport project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala government cancelled all orders related to the proposed Aranmula airport project on Wednesday, including the grant of in-principle sanction.A decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting here, an official release said. The project, promoted by KGS Group, had run into trouble after it was mooted nearly seven years ago with environment groups and people in the area holding that it would cause environmental hazards. The CPI(M)-led LDF government in an affidavit filed in the Kerala High Court in a connected case in August had said that it had decided to take immediate steps to cancel its decision to notify approximately 500 acres of land in Aranmula as an industrial area. The government had also stated that it was found that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions.The project, opposed by BJP in the state, came back to focus afresh after the Expert Appraisal Committee under the Environment Ministry had permitted KGS Group to conduct an environment study at a meeting on July 29.The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 set aside the environmental clearance given by the UPA government to the project and directed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the promoters, to stop construction at the site. The tribunal passed the order on a petition filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council.The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who said that the airport would cause structural damage to the temple.

Name change of Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple ‘serious violation of rules’: Kerala govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversy is brewing over renaming of the centuries old hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple, with Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran stating that he would seek an explanation from Travancore Devaswom Board, which maintains the famous shrine.The government, which was taken by surprise by TDB’s decision, said this was a “serious violation of rules” and it’s approval was not sought, the minister said in a Facebook post. The temple, believed to have been established 1,800 years ago, is considered among the biggest and most ancient shrines Since then, it has been known as Sree Dharma Sastha temple and the board had no right to change it, Kadakampally said.Stating that government would seek an explanation from the TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan, the minister said he was not aware of the board’s intention behind such a move. “TDB had no right to change the temple’s name and in such a secret manner. We fail to understand the intention behind the change of name”, he said.Kadakampally said he came to know of the name change through media reports. He claimed even the Sabarimala thantri (priest) was unaware of the decision and that none had asked him.The Pandalam Royal family had also expressed similar sentiments, he added. The controversy has hit the famed temple at a time when the pilgrim season has begun and lakhs of devotees would be offering worship during the three month long period.TDB had said on Monday that the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple would henceforth be known as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple and that the decision to change the name was taken at the Board’s meeting on October 5.The Devaswom said there are many Dharmasastha temples under it. But Sabarimala was the one and only holy seat in the world where Sree Ayyappaswamy presides and that was the reason why crores of devotees visit Sabarimala every year to have a darshan of Lord Ayyappaswamy.The TDB, an autonomous body, administers 1,248 temples, including Sabarimala, in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore.

Demonetization: Shirdi Saibaba temple stops accepting donations in defunct notes

Sun, 20 Nov 2016-03:29pm , Shirdi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust said on Sunday it has stopped accepting the defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes at its donation counters.After the Centre demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on November 8, from the next day onwards the temple trust started accepting donations and making other transactions through credit or debit cards, the trust’s chief accountant Babasaheb Ghorpade said. However, the defunct notes have been found in the temple’s ‘hundis’ (cash boxes) and the trust is depositing it in the nationalised banks, he added.

Kerala: Rights groups alleges elephant torture during Vaikom Mahadeva Temple’s fest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thrissur-based animal rights campaigner Heritage Animal Task Force, condemned the alleged torture of elephants, who were paraded inside the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple in Kottayam district of Kerala as part of a festival, and claimed the parades were ‘unlawful’.In a letter to the Director, Project Elephant, Environment and Forest Ministry, it complained that more than three elephants were paraded inside the temple premises on November 16 and 17 during the annual Vaikkathashtamy festival and both parades were ‘unlawful’.”Both these elephant parades were unlawful as the Elephant Parade Rule issued by State Forest Secretary on March 13, 2013 specifically states that nobody has the freedom to allow entry of more than three elephants at a time,” Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam said.But the officials of departments of Devaswom, the temple management body, police and forest remained mute spectators without initiating any penal action against those responsible “for this type of violations related to elephant parade,” he alleged in the letter.”Anyone can see the torture inflicted by placing flaming torch very near to the body of the elephants as part of the rituals. As the temple complex is brightly illuminated by electric lights, use of flaming torches are meant only to scare the elephants,” he claimed.The campaigner also urged the Centre to take steps to ban these types of ‘unlawful’ elephant parades at the earliest.

Demonetisation: Religious places to maintain balance sheet, deposit donations on daily basis

Mumbai: A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Maharashtra’s famous temples and shrines are busy counting money. The state government issued a circular on Wednesday asking all religious bodies, NGOs and charitable trusts to maintain a daily balance sheet and deposit donations received, in banks, on a daily basis.

Earlier, religious places used to deposit donations received on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.

Religious places had been seeing a surge in donations after the ban with many devotees dropping in the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes apart from gold, silver and other valuable items through donation boxes. So, to avoid black money through donations in religious places, the Law and Judiciary Department of the Maharashtra government issued the circular.

Representational image. Reuters

“It is now mandatory for all temples and public trust offices to deposit donations received, daily in the bank,” said legal consultant Rajendra Sawant. The circular, a copy of which is available with the Firstpost, is applicable for all charitable trusts, NGOs and temples who have been received donations in old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

There are more than 1,000 temples and shrines registered with the charity commissioner’s office in Maharashtra. Besides, the state is also home to several popular temples including the richest temple of the country, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust in Mumbai.

Talking to Firstpost, Narendra Rane, chairman of Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, confirmed that he has received the new circular. “From today onwards we are counting all donations received in our cash boxes on a daily basis. Earlier, we used to do weekly counts in front of bank employees and our members. But seeing the pressure on banks, we have decided to count it using the temple staff,” said Rane.

A copy of the circular issued by Law and Judiciary Department of Maharashtra State government

A copy of the circular issued by Law and Judiciary Department of Maharashtra State government

Interestingly, though the temple has witnessed a 25 per cent fall in the number of devotees in the last 10 days, it witnessed an increase of 50 percent in donations, Rane added. “Before demonetisation, the average weekly collection was Rs 35 to Rs 40 lakhs. This time, we received Rs 60 lakhs in cash. The daily average has also gone up from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 6.5 lakhs in the last 10 days,” he added.

Rane claimed that earlier majority of the devotees would donate notes of lesser denominations, but post demonetisation, the number of higher denomination notes has increased. “We have received 90 new notes of Rs 2,000, 1,060 notes of Rs 1000  (Rs 10.60 lakh) and 3,340 notes of Rs 500 (Rs 17 lakh),” said Rane. Though the temple trust is not accepting old currency notes, it is unable to avoid them since notes are dropped anonymously.

Though the temple trust is not accepting old currency notes, it is unable to avoid them since notes are dropped anonymously. In fact, at many shrines, signs have been put up to discourage devotees from donating the invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Kolhapur’s famous Mahalaxmi temple has also started daily count of donations from Thursday.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 18:27 IST

Service, prayers mark Gurupurab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Each time Sardar Ram Singh Rathor picks up shoes of strangers, he feels he has followed the teachings of Guru Nanak. Founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak was born in 1469​ and on Monday, the Sikh community across the world celebrated the founder’s 547th birth anniversary. Over a lakh people came to take seek blessings of Guru Granth Sahib — ​​the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the eternal living Guru following the lineage of the 10 human Gurus of the religion — to mark the festival at Garodia Nagar​,​ where the apex body of Sikhs in city, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Dadar organises celebrations.“When you pick up shoes of people, you finish your ego. There are rich and poor who come for darshan and picking of shoes is a seva that is symbolic to all people being one,” said Ram Singh who as a mukh sevedar (chief serviceman) along with his volunteers kept shoes of thousands of others who kept coming to through the day.Into the business of making bullet proof cars and honorary secretary of Mumbai Hockey Assoc​i​ation, Ram Singh heads Sevak Jatha and takes a two days off. “This is the real seva (service) when you come here and serve people in whatever way. Sitting in office you do not get that bonding of one community. Out here, you not just pick up their shows and slippers but also sit with all people alike to have langar (food). Guru Nanak Devji stood for abolishing caste system and taught that world is one community. He was for bond and not bondage,” he added. “Guru Nanak Dev emphasised on seva, Jap and charity. The idea of celebrating his birthday is to ensure that we follow his teachings,” said Manmohan Singh, general secretary of Sri Guru Singh Sabha that organises the event.Special Kirtankars who are authorised to do Kirtans in Golden Temple are called on this day besides a number of social activities like blood donation, health check up, free download of music and serving of Langar is done as part of seva. “This is the first time we have come. Today we will be giving Kirtan on the life of Guru Nanak Dev and what he did and how he lived,” said Sahib Singh, head Kirtankar who had come from Golden Temple for the kirtan. Amit Sawant, too came for the first time said came after his friend invited him over. “We came and prayed here. My friend is from the community and he had invited me,” said Sawant who liked the idea of having langar and the concept of seva.“Our day starts early and we come here for Darshan. Once we have done that, we listen to Kirtan and stay around till the people come here for langar,” said Gyan Singh who had come to serve food to people. “Serving is satisfying hunger of our soul on this day. We look forward to do this,” said Sulakham Singh, another sevedar.

Ahead of India visit, British opposition asks Theresa May to clarify UK’s role in Operation Blue Star

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UK’s Opposition Labour party has called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to “come clean” about the role played by Britain in Operation Blue Star before her three-day visit to India starting Sunday.Labour party Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, said on Friday that Britain’s Sikh community deserves to know the truth in the wake of allegations by Sikh Federation UK that the UK Foreign Office had removed files with “new evidence” of British involvement in the military operation on Golden Temple in June 1984. “Before her visit to India, Theresa May must come clean about the role played by the UK in the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984 and subsequent events. There is increasing evidence that Margaret Thatcher s administration worked more closely with the Indian government than was known at the time,” Watson said in a statement.His statement followed claims that the Foreign Office had intentionally removed files referring to the possibility of the Special Air Services (SAS) unit of the British Army being involved after “an Indian request for military assistance in the setting up of a National Guard for internal security duties” during Operation Blue Star. While the Foreign Office said it had merely “borrowed” the files, the Labour party said the fact the files exist raise important questions. Watson added: “David Cameron’s previous inquiry failed to reveal the full facts and we now learn that vital new documents relating to the massacre have been removed from the National Archives by ministers. The revelation that these new documents exist suggest that Parliament may have been inadvertently misled by a former Foreign Secretary. After over 30 years of demanding answers, Britain’s Sikh community deserves to know the truth, no matter how embarrassing it is for the current government. After the failure of the Cabinet Secretary s internal inquiry, there should be a full independent investigation into these matters.”The Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry refers to an official UK government inquiry in 2014 into the exact nature of British involvement in the Indian Army operation at the Golden Temple. The inquiry had been ordered by then British Prime Minister David Cameron after documents released previously under the 30-year declassification rule had implied British SAS commanders had advised the Indian government as it drew up plans for the removal of militants from Golden Temple. “The report concludes that the nature of the UK s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage in their planning,” William Hague, then UK foreign secretary, had told the House of Commons in February 2014.Sikh Federation UK claims the latest note it found, marked confidential, was written on July 3, 1984, a month after the operation, which points to a more prominent British role. The note was written by a civil servant in the Foreign Office s South Asia department and copied to Ministry of Defence officials and the high commissioner in Delhi. Earlier on Friday, their lawyers wrote to UK home secretary Amber Rudd demanding an “independent investigation”. “The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) borrowed some of their files from 1984 that were released to the National Archives so they could read the content following concerns raised by the Sikh Federation. They will return all the files in full shortly,” a UK government spokesperson said.

Operation Blue Star: India’s first tryst with militant extremism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Early this week, India marked the thirty-second death anniversary of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October, with a subdued function attended by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family and prominent members of the Congress Party at her memorial, Shakti Sthal in New Delhi. It automatically rewinds one’s memory back to that fateful day in Indian history when Indira Gandhi was felled by the bullets of her Sikh bodyguards at a garden porch outside her official residence on 1 Safdarjung Road, New Delhi, on the morning of October 31, 1984. Gandhi’s two bodyguards, Sub-Inspector Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, devout Sikhs by faith shot her at point-blank range enraged at her for calling orders for Operation Blue Star, a military operation which had allegedly desecrated the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple at Amritsar in Punjab earlier that year.How it beganOperation Blue Star, Indian army’s most controversial operation took place from June 1 to June 8, 1984, at Gandhi’s orders to evacuate ‘Sant’ Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a militant religious leader of the Sikhs who had ‘occupied’ the precinct of the Harmandir Saheb, with the support of armed militia between July 1983 and June 1984. Bhindranwale’s meteoric rise in Sikh community politics was partly due to the covert support he received from the Punjab Congress leaders, to divide the Akali Dal, a socio-religious party of the Sikh community which was poised to defeat the Congress in the 1980 elections. It has been alleged that Bhindranwale was chosen for this role by none other than Giani Zail Singh, who then headed Punjab Congress at the behest of Gandhi’s son and presumptive heir, Sanjay Gandhi. However, Bhindranwale who headed the Damdami Taksal, an educational institution for training young Sikh clerics, soon proved to be his own person with his own ideas for creating a renewed puritan order of the Sikhs based on militant power.Rein of religious terrorismBhindranwale launched the ‘Dharam Yudh Morcha’ in August 1982 to push for the implementation of the Akali Dal’s Anandpur Sahib Resolution of 1973 which called for a return to a more puritan form of Sikhism. In July 1983, Bhindranwale was invited by H. S. Longowal, the Chief of the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to occupy the Guru Nanak Niwas at the Golden Temple, which gave him virtual control over all access to this most important shrine of the Sikh community. Bhindranwale fortified the Golden Temple complex with machine guns and anti-tank launchers using the services of a disaffected ex-Indian army official, ‘General’ Shahbeg Singh to train his supporters. His supporters’ excesses mounted by the day and resulted in the murders of important public figures including A. S. Atwal, the D. I. G. of Punjab Police who was shot in broad daylight at the footsteps of the Golden Temple on April 23, 1983.
—Getty ImagesThe planning Bhindranwale’s abject rejection of peaceful settlement forced Gandhi to consider a more radical way of evacuating the terrorists from the Golden Temple. She turned to the army officials to prepare a draft plan for the evacuation which soon culminated into Operation Blue Star, which was commanded by Lt. Gen. Kuldeep Singh Brar and supervised by Lt. Gen. K. Sundarji and Army Chief Gen. A. S. Vaidya. The actual operation was divided into two major sub-operations, Operation Woodrose to contain any attack by Bhindranwale’s sympathisers from the Punjab countryside, and Operation Metal to secure the Golden Temple for the Indian government. Suspected Sikh militants surrender before the army in 1984 in Amritsar, India. —Getty ImagesThe tragedy of Operation Blue Star was – its timing coincided with the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjandev which led to the flocking of a large number of Sikh pilgrims to the temple complex. The government justified it by pointing to the call given by Longowal for beginning a state-wide civil disobedience on June 3, 1984. However, this factor added to a significant number of civilian casualties and injuries caused by the operation though the army claimed to have ordered a general evacuation of the complex before it rushed in. Additionally, the government imposed Emergency in the Punjab during the Operation causing a blackout of media reporting. The attackThe step-by-step operation began on June 1 with the armed forces encountering machine-gun-wielding militants in gun battles for control of the Harmandir Sahib Complex. The army sealed off the Temple complex and began pounding the outer defences laid by Gen. Shahbeg Singh. It also rushed tanks and armoured vehicles to the complex along with army helicopters which gave real-time information to its commanding officials. There was temporary ceasefire on 4 June when a team led by G. S. Tohra, ex-SGPC chief went in for negotiations with Bhindranwale on behalf of the government. However, the failure of the talks led to the recommencement of the hostilities, with firing on June 5 resulting in massive casualties to the Indian army and destruction of three tanks when the army units tried to capture the Akal Takht. The Operation countered more resistance for the next two days with continuous firing by the militants till June 7 when the army finally gained control over most of the Temple complex. A raging battle continued between the army and a small group of holed-up militants between June 8 to 10. When Operation Blue Star ended, there were 700-800 odd army casualties and over 500 militant casualties, including that of Bhindranwale, who was also reportedly killed in the operation. Government sources reported about 5000 civilian casualties. Rise of Khalistan movementOperation Blue Star had wider repercussions on the country’s politics as numerous Sikh youth turned to the Khalistan Movement, which gained more traction in the coming years supported and abetted by Pakistan’s ISI and orthodox Sikh groups. Indira Gandhi became the most hated person for her role in Operation Blue Star, as it had destroyed and damaged portions of the Akal Takht with massive casualties of Sikh pilgrims. Additionally, the Sikh sensibilities were offended at the alleged entry of the army personnel with boots in the complex and the wanton ‘destruction’ of Sikh scriptures’ manuscripts which were mischievously claimed to have been burnt deliberately at the behest of the government. These claims among many other rumours fuelled an atmosphere of mistrust with the government leading to the conspiracy to assassinate Indira Gandhi within four months of Operation Blue Star.The hunter and the huntedOperation Blue Star led to an increased threat perception to Indira Gandhi’s life leading to the initial removal of Sikhs from her personal bodyguard by the Intelligence Bureau. However, she thought this would reinforce her anti-Sikh image among the public and give ammunition to her opponents. She forced the SPG to reinstate her Sikh bodyguards especially Beant Singh who was believed to be her personal favourite. These circumstances led to her assassination by Beant Singh and Satwant Singh on the morning of October 31, 1984, who shot 36 bullets from a revolver and a Sten gun at close range. The Sikh community’s troubles however only increased with Gandhi’s death. As news filtered in that her assailants belonged to the Sikh community, a horrific anti-Sikh pogrom began on the evening of October 31 in the suburbs of Delhi staged by anti-social elements allegedly at the behest of local Congress politicians who wanted to teach the Sikhs a lesson. The rioters targeted Sikhs systematically using electoral lists to identify Sikh families in the suburbs of Mongolpuri, Palam, Shahdara, Trilokpuri, Sultanpuri and Trans-Yamuna region.The anti-Sikh riotsThe violence began on the evening of October 31 itself in and around the neighbourhood of AIIMS, and soon spread to pockets of the city where there were Gurudwaras, and finally the suburbs, lasting till November 3. The mobs used knives, iron rods and clubs to attack male members of Sikh families, and later doused their bodies with inflammable liquids to burn them and destroy evidence. The mobs alleged to be incited by prominent members of the Congress viz. H. K. L. Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Lalit Maken, and Sajjan Kumar who were said to have supplied the rioters with weapons, cash and other logistical support to carry out the carnage for over four days. The riots are said to have killed at least 3000 Sikhs in the Delhi-NCR region and displaced scores of Sikhs by burning the Sikh business establishments in the area. The violence is said to have affected other parts of India as well taking the body count as high as 8000 till it was brought under control. The violence ironically happened in the backdrop of the swearing-in of Indira Gandhi’s eldest son, Rajiv Gandhi as the new Prime Minister at the invitation of President Giani Zail Singh who was the first Sikh occupant of the august office.The anti-Sikh riots outraged Sikhs all over the world and fuelled the Khalistan movement with young recruits rushing to enlist in the movement. The Khalistan insurgency was to haunt Punjab and the Indian government till early 1990s killing scores of innocent civilians and government officials. It was sustained by the support of Pakistan’s ISI and a section of overseas Sikhs who misguidedly thought that the Sikh community’s cause would be better served by secession. However, systematic and careful handling of counter-insurgency measures later in the 1990s helped the government bring the Punjab militancy to an end; though not before the loss of thousands of lives due to the flames of religious extremism and uncaring governmental response to the problem.

Kali Puja celebrated in West Bengal with pomp and fervour

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kali Puja was celebrated in West Bengal with pomp and religious fervour amid tight security a day ahead of Diwali.A large number of devotees visited Kalighat, Dakshineswar and Adyapeeth Kali temples in and around the city to offer prayers to the goddess on the auspicious day. Devotees had to stand in long queues at the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district to offer puja.Among other places, Kali puja was also held at Thanthania Kali Temple in North Kolkata, Lake Kali Temple in South Kolkata and Firinghee Kali Temple in Central Kolkata. Like in 2015, Kali puja was also held at the residence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Many important personalities, officials and other dignitaries attended the Kali puja and met the Chief Minister to exchange greetings.Stating that the festivals display colours of humanity, culture and civilisation, Banerjee in a message earlier had urged all to maintain communal harmony especially during the festive days of Diwali and Kali puja. Many community pujas at Barasat and Naihati in North 24-Parganas district were major attraction among people.West Bengal Fire Services Minister and City Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said that all arrangements have been made by his department to prevent any untoward incident during the festival. “So far the celebration is peaceful and without any incident,” Chatterjee said.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan launches paddy cultivation in land set apart for airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the proposed airport here cannot be allowed in view of environmental concerns, the CPI-M led LDF government in Kerala on Saturday launched sowing operations in about 56 hectares of land acquired for the project, promoted by KGS Group. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan kick-started the sowing operations as locals and farmers cheered.The LDF government was not against airports, he said. “We only said the airport cannot be allowed here as it will mean destroying nature and environment. We do not want an airport here. There will be no change in this decision,” Vijayan said. The LDF government was keen on comprehensive development of the state, he added.Agriculture Minister, V S Sunil Kumar and Water Resources Minister Mathew P Thomas were among those present on the occasion. The land where sowing operations were launched today has been lying fallow for about two decades due to waterlogging. About 700 acres of land had been acquired for the project, which has faced protests from environmentalists and local people.The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 set aside the environmental clearance given by the then UPA government to the project and directed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the promoters, to stop construction at the site. The tribunal had passed the order on a petition filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council.The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who have said that the airport would cause structural damage to the temple. In an affidavit filed in Kerala High Court in August last, the state government had said it would examine whether a government order granting in-principle sanction to the airport project could be cancelled. It had also stated that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions.

Delhi: Man kills two-year-old girl at temple, claims she was possessed by spirits

New Delhi: A two-and-a-half-year-old girl was kidnapped and killed by man, who hit her head against the floor of a temple in west Delhi’s Ranhola area on Monday, claiming that she was possessed by spirits.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Amit Kumar (28), a rickshaw puller, allegedly kidnapped the girl from her home around 11.15 am and took her to a temple 100 metres away, where he hit her head against the floor, injuring her grievously, a senior police officer said.

While searching for their daughter, the girl’s parents found her lying on the temple floor and took her to a nearby hospital where she was declared dead, he said.

Meanwhile, police arrived at the temple and arrested the accused.

“The accused hasn’t spoken much during questioning. But, he claimed that he can see ghosts and understand their language. Kumar said he felt the girl was possessed and hit her head against the floor to get her rid of the negative spirits,” an officer claimed.

From whatever he has said during questioning, it looks like he is mentally sick, the officer said.

Police is awaiting the autopsy report to determine whether the accused had assaulted the girl sexually.

Zero-garbage goal makes Siddhivinayak first green temple

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai’s 350-year-old Siddhivinayak Temple has been felicitated with Platinum Award by the Indian Green Building Council. The structure is unique because it utilises almost 100 per cent of sunlight, and therefore, is the first green temple in the country.Till now, IGBC was focusing on government, commercial, residential buildings and hotels but for the first time it awarded green rating to a temple. Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir Nyas Trust Chairman Narendra Rane told DNA that an IGBC team visited the temple and took stock of the measures taken by the trust towards the zero-garbage goal.Besides, the Laddu prasad at Sidhivinayak temple has also been lauded at the national level by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India since it is prepared with a standardised process and for being natural.Sanjiv Patil, Chief Executive Officer of the Trust, informed DNA that the temple has been declared as the first green temple of India. He said that the certificate also has been issued to the trust and the Laddu prasad at the temple was shown as an example during a meeting called by FSSAI CEO Pavankumar Agarwal. In this meeting representatives of all religious places including churches, gurudwaras and mosques were asked to follow the example of Siddhivinayak temple while preparing prasad.Rane informed that the temple trust has solar panels fitted on its building and also made arrangements for the rain water harvesting which is collected from two terraces of an area of 3,000 square feet each. He said that the trust has also made arrangements for a sewage treatment plant and 2,500 litres of treated waste water is used for toilet and other purpose within the temple premises. Furthermore, the flowers, garlands and coconuts offered to the deity are segregated. Grated coconut is used for making a sweet prasad for devotees and the waste is sent for treatment.The IGBC has suggested a few measures so that the temple can attain zero-garbage status in the next six months.The Trust is generating 20KV of electricity through solar panels fitted at the top of its two buildings.

Ram Temple will come up by 2017, before the museum: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Ram temple issue is not a poll plank but a matter of faith and should not be connected to upcoming UP elections, BJP leaders said, a day after party leader Vinay Katiyar’s remarks that only “lollipops” were being offered in the name of the temple raised eyebrows. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy went to the extent of assuring Katiyar that the Ram temple at Ayodhya will come up in 2017 and the museum, land for which is being taken now, will only come up later by 2019.”Ram mandir will be constructed. As per our tradition, the temple is not constructed alone and such museums will also come up around it. Only land for the museum is being taken and it will come up later only by 2019. The Ram temple will come up before and that is why Katiyar should be rest assured,” Swamy said.He also claimed that the attempt is that Ram Mandir should come up by 2017 as it is a promise made by BJP in the 2014 manifesto. “It is not statement of faith. We have to keep our promise even if delayed,” he said.Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Uma Bharti said that Ram temple is not a political issue but a matter of faith for them.”Ram Mandir is not a political issue, it is a matter of faith…First you ask whether Ram Mandir is not on the agenda, then you will make headlines that Ram Mandir is not an issue and BJP has abandoned it. If we don’t say, you say BJP has abandoned the Ram mandir.”If reaction is given then you say whether Ram Mandir is the only issue. Ram Mandir is a matter of faith. We need to move forward on the issue on the basis of discussion or on the basis of court’s order. Some people are trying to divert attention,” Naidu said.Bharti said that there is talk that BJP is raising the Ram Mandir issue as there are polls in Uttar Pradesh but it not so.”Ram issue is not a poll issue. It is about faith. It is a question of life and death. We are ready to even give our life for Ram Temple,” she said, adding that the issue in UP polls is corruption and lawlessness.RSS sympathiser Rakesh Sinha said there is no relation between Ram temple and the museum, which is to beautify Ayodhya. “Ram temple issue is that of faith and dignity and there should be no controversy over Ayodhya’s beautification and Ram temple,” he said. Naidu also blamed the media and said Ram Temple talk is a their creation and BJP will fight elections on the issue of development and good governance.He said people raise issues and then ask for the opinion of the leaders and then start commenting. The Minister asked what was wrong in having the Museum of Ramayana. The Union Minister also questioned whether people hail Ravana on Dussehra, supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying “Jai Shri Ram” during his address on the day in Lucknow.

Swamy courts controversy, says BJP will unite Hindus, divide minorities in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what may give the opposition parties fresh ammunition to target the saffron party in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday stirred a controversy with his remark that his party would unite the Hindu community by resolving the Ram Temple issue and divide the minorities in order to emerge victorious in the politically crucial state.”Development is necessary to win election in the nation but it is not everything. To win the elections, it is important to focus on our priority. The conspiracy played against us in the past was to divide the Hindus and unite the minorities. But this time we will do just the opposite, we will unite the Hindus and will divide the minorities as much as possible,” Swamy told ANI.Highlighting the pro-development initiatives of former prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao besides Congress veteran Morarji Desai, Swamy said that they failed to win the elections for their party despite all efforts.Swamy said it is important to focus on three issues to win the elections that is corruption, development and the Ram Temple issue.The BJP leader further said it is impossible that the Ram Temple issue does not attract eyeballs at a time when election is scheduled to take place in Uttar Pradesh.Early today, Swamy said the Ram Temple issue is part of the BJP’s 2014 manifesto, adding it is the party’s obligation to the people to deliver on this promise.”The Ram issue is a part of our manifesto in 2014, how can we run away from it. We have to deliver,” Swamy told ANI.Yesterday, the Congress Party accused the BJP for selling the name of Lord Ram to siphon off a victory in Uttar Pradesh.”The Congress has nothing to do with the BJP constructing a museum there (Ayodhya), or the Samajwadi party organising things for the Ramayana mela. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is selling the name of Ram in the wake of coming UP polls,” said Congress leader DP Singh.Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar, on the other hand, asked the BJP-led Central government to intensify its efforts to construct Ram temple in Ayodhya instead of giving ‘lollipop’ (Ram museum) to please the people, who are demanding the construction of the temple.”It’s a big mistake; effort should be made to construct the Ram Mandir (temple); this “lolipapi” (handing over Ramayana Museum as lollipop to please the people who are demanding the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya) won’t work. People ask when will be the Ram Temple constructed?This (Ramayana Museum) is a lollipop, it doesn’t have much importance, and thus, they should make positive effort. I would have said this had I been there. It’s good that I did not go there,” Katiyar told ANI.

BJP government is promoting spectre of intolerance: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress charged the BJP-led government of promoting a “spectre of intolerance” in the country on Monday to stifle any voice that has a contrary opinion and said anyone who is “anti-government is dubbed as anti-national and anti-BJP as seditious”.Without getting into the issue of what film-maker Anurag Kashyap had said, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari​ said the larger context is that in past 28 months of this government attempts have been made to stamp a homogeneous narrative in this country and to stifle minority opinion, which is worrisome.”We do not need to react to any individual point of view. That Mr Kashyap can answer the question. For us, the larger context is the growing spectre of intolerance, the attempts to stamp a homogenous narrative in this country, to stifle any voice which has a contrary opinion or even a minority opinion.”So, this dominant discourse whereby anybody who is anti-Government is anti-National, anybody who is anti-BJP is seditious, anybody who raises legitimate questions of civil-military relations is treasonous. This is the larger environment which the BJP Government has created in the last 28 months and this is worrying,” he said.Tewari said this Government has promoted a spectre of intolerance over the past 28 months whereby today the creative community has started saying that we have a Censor in our head and we think twice before we say anything and that is the larger context.He was asked to comment on Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju’s remarks on Kashyap’s statement that it has become a fashion to attack the Prime Minister in this country. Tewari said he would not like to respond to Rijiju, but he had cautioned in 2013 at the International Film Festival in Goa on the “great evil that looms over this land”.”I had cautioned the creative community that there is a great evil which looms over this land. There is a spectre of fascism which will come to prevail and unfortunately the last 28 months of the NDA-BJP Government has really proven that to be correct.”The question is that India’s liberalism in creative spaces belongs to the people of India. They belong to the people who practice the liberalism and so, therefore if an attempt is made to try and put in a dominant narrative, which totally and absolutely tries to step out of a contrary opinion, that is not what creativity is all about. That is an assault on creativity,” he said.On the contentious issue of “Triple Talaq , Tewari said “there is a petitioner, there is a respondent and there is a Judge and the matter is subjudice.” On the Ram Temple issue, he said, “Whenever elections come, they bring it up. They do not have faith in the temple issue. They have no faith in Ram Temple. Since 1992, they remember Ram only when elections come and they remember.”

Ahead of festival season, Delhi under high security following terror alert

New Delhi: Delhi has been put on a high alert against any possible terror attack that can be in the form of a bomb blast or suicide attack.

With the ongoing festival of Navratri and ahead of Durga Puja, the National Capital has been put under tight security cover. Besides, regular police force, teams of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) commandos have been deployed at high footfall locations.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

According to Delhi Police sources, the Special Cell—anti-terror unit issued an alert in the last week of September of a possible terror attack at high-value targets and vulnerable places with high footfalls.

It’s believed that the alert was issued following the surgical strike by the Indian Army at the Line of Control.

Keeping with the series of festivals to be celebrated from Durga Puja to Diwali and Chhat Puja to Muharram in October, local intelligence and preventive and precautionary measures have been beefed up across Delhi.

“Based on inputs received by the special cell on a possible armed attack, fidayeen (suicide) attack and bomb blast on high-value targets including vulnerable ones, the alert was issued and security measures have been beefed up in the Delhi-NCR. The staff concerned has been briefed accordingly. There are a series of festivals beginning with Navratri. Besides, celebrations, there will be processions of Dussehra and Muharram, which makes it more sensitive due to high footfalls,” a highly placed source said.

Sources said that four teams of SWAT have been deployed at important locations those attract a large crowd and gathering including India Gate.

“Considering the sensitivity of the situation, 30 to 40 SWAT commandos have been kept on standby,” the source said.

Under security radar is areas like India Gate, Red Fort, Jhandewalan Temple, Chhatarpur Temple, Chain of Malls at Saket, IGI Airport, Railway stations, Metro stations, ISBT, vital installations, markets, puja pandals, and parking zones.

“This time it’s very sensitive due to the surgical strike that took place last week. Therefore, along with Delhi police staff and other security forces, SWAT commandos are on a strict vigil,” the source said.

The 2005 and 2008 bomb blasts in Delhi that had rocked the National Capital are still fresh in the minds of the citizens. On 29 October 2005, three consecutive explosions occurred in the evening killing 62 people while on 13 September 2008, five bomb blasts happened at various locations almost simultaneously within a span of few minutes that claimed 30 lives.

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trust shouldn’t get tax exemption, says ex-CAG’s report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Travancore Royal Family was once again put in the dock by the former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai. Rai, who has been assigned by the Supreme Court to audit the management of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trust funds, stated in his report submitted to the apex court, that gross malpractices had been carried out by the royal family in their accounting and income tax returns.”In the income tax returns for the financial year 2008-09 to 2013-14 filed by the Trust, Rs 22.75 lakh had been shown as capital expenditure for purchase of vessels for the temple and Rs 59.16 lakh towards addition/improvements to landed properties of the temple. But these additions actually stood included in the fixed assets of the Trust which would indicate that there was “misrepresentation” in the IT returns filed,” Rai’s report said.In the report, of which dna has a copy, Rai has also revealed that the financial irregularities by the temple management including 769 missing pots (776 kg) of gold from the treasury of the temple,which is worth an estimated Rs 186 crore. He sought a detailed probe into the incident.The report also estimated that the total income that was taxable from 2009-10 to 2014-15 was Rs 680.15 lakh but only Rs 98.05 lakh had been shown in the IT returns filed by the Temple Trust during that period.Rai has recommended that no income tax exemption be given to the temple trust. He has also stated that the money given towards maintaining the temple and temple activities has been apittance and not in accordance with the tax laws of the country.The Trust has been availing of tax exemption under the Income Tax Act for a long time now. ButRai pointed out in his report that the rental of kalyan mandapam (marriage halls) owned by the trust has resulted in revenue for which tax has not been paid. The renting out of these marriage halls is the main source of revenue for the temple trust.”The accounts of the Trust for the year 2008-09 to 2012-13 produced before the authority did not include security deposits of Rs 42.37 lakh collected during those years from those who booked the kalyan mandapams, amount pending, refund, case, SB and FD accounts in which the amount refundable were retained. Keeping such amounts out of the accounts was a serious irregularity as there is a chance of misuse of amounts not accounted for,” the report said.The Trust also receives huge donations from devotees across the country but the report claims this money has been used for maintaining buildings other than the temple.”As funds can be applied only for the purpose of the Temple, including of expenditure on repairs and maintenance of buildings not owned by the Trust is tantamount to clear violation for which the Trust is formed,” the report said.Reacting to the report, sources close to the royal family said, “The report has been prepared without consulting any of the family members. It is completely one sided as the material and information supplied was not considered.”Ex-CAG report: Taxable income to be paid by Temple TrustAssessment year Taxable Income (Rs in lakh)2009-10 93.452010-11 93.382011-12 107.272012-13 114.702013-14 141.972014-15 129.38————- ———————————–Total 680.15 lakhThe report alleges that only Rs 98.05 lakh was shown as taxable income by the Temple Trust during this period

Soon, monuments to be disabled-friendly

Soon enough, differently-abled visitors at some of the country’s prominent tourist places will be able to access monument and artefacts without any discomfort. An initiative, jointly worked out by the culture and the social justice and empowerment ministries, will have 50 prominent monuments accessible for the disabled friendly soon. Some of the prominent monuments include the capital’s Qutab Minar, Red Fort, and Humayun’s tomb, Konark’s Sun Temple, Puri’s Jagannath Temple, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, etc.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facilities provided will include wheelchairs, disabled-friendly toilets, Braille signages, tactile floors or pathways, railings and ramps. The initiative will be jointly carried out by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).”The project, to be taken up nationwide, will be carried out in a phased manner, keeping in mind the security provisons in several places,” said a ministry official. On the offing is also some prominent railways stations. The official added that the ministry is also working on fitting solar panels is some prominent monuments to generate eletricity for these monuments.The ASI has been working on making several monuments accessibility friendly, over the last few years. The Taj Mahal, Tipu Sultan’s Palace, Fatehpur Sikri, Aga Khan Palace, Ajanta and Ellora Caves have been relatively accessible due to their efforts.There are over 50 lakh disabled people in India. Census data says that over 3-4% of India’s population are differently-abled; however, the World Health Organisation pegs that at over 9%.Differently-abled activist, Pt Vikas Sharma, chairman of Disabled Helpline India says that he has approached the culture minister, Mahesh Sharma, after a recee visit to Jageshwar in Nainital.”We carry out routine checks in several tourist and pulbic places. In Jageshwar temple at Almora, included in the list, there were steep stairs, but no provision for the differently-abled, neither were any parking lot spaces for us and pick and drop facilities,” said Sharma. “I applaud the ministry must it include us in its efforts for practical solutions. In other countries, a lot of has been done to make public spaces comfortable for us. India still has a lot more to do.”Some monuments in the list:Buddhist monuments — SanchiChampaner monuments — ChampanerElephenta Caves — Gehra SurgadRanthambor Fort — RanthamborChittaurgarh Fort — ChittaurgarhLeh Palace — LehSarnath — VaranasiRang Ghar — SibsagarSt Francis Church — CochinGolconda Fort — Hyderabad

BJP will focus on Ram Temple, Article 370 at right time: Union Minister Harsh Vardhan

Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh): The BJP has not given up Ram Temple and Article 370 issues and the party will focus on these at an appropriate time, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.

Harsh Vardhan_Firstpost-Naresh Sharma

Harsh Vardhan_Firstpost-Naresh Sharma

Stressing that BJP’s top priority is ‘Rashtriya Dharm’, he said, “Ram Temple, Article 370 (which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir) have not been left. Right now, the party is working on common programme of the alliance (NDA).”

“The party will work on the two issues at the appropriate time,” the Union Science and Technology Minister said at the sidelines of ‘Vikas Parv’ programme here.

On reservation issue, Vardhan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already spoken on it.

The Union Minister also said the Centre, after holding talks with the states facing drought, has swiftly provided help to them.

The Central government led by Modi has in the last two years strengthened the country’s economy, which was in a crippled state, he claimed, adding “Foreign investment, growth rate have risen manifold and the country’s economy is back on track.”

The NDA government has set an example by remaining corruption free in last two years. The country has progressed, prospered and is marching ahead to emerge as an economic power in the world, he added.

Operation Bluestar anniversary: Pro-Khalistan and anti-government slogans raised

Amritsar: A small group of people who raised pro-Khalistan and anti-government slogans were whisked away by the SGPC Task Force and police as the 32nd anniversary of the Indian Army’s “Operation Bluestar” passed off peacefully at the Golden Temple complex on Monday.

Except for a few pro-Khalistan, anti-government and anti-Badal slogans by Sikh hardliners, there was no trouble in front of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion located inside the shrine complex.

File image of the Golden Temple. Ibnlive

File image of the Golden Temple. Ibnlive

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Task Force members and police personnel in plainclothes kept a close watch on the hardliners who tried to hijack the ceremony.

The Task Force members did not allow the hardliners to take control of the function.

The slogans were raised soon after Akal Takht Jathedar (chief) Gurbachan Singh read out his address to the Sikh community.

Prayers were offered at the Golden Temple complex, which is home to the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandar Sahib, on Monday morning to mark the Bluestar anniversary.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said scores of people attended the event.

Security agencies were on alert in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, ahead of the anniversary.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had appealed to everyone to exercise restraint and observe the anniversary peacefully.

The appeal came due to apprehension of clashes between Sikh hardliners and moderates.

In the last three-four years, pro-Khalistan slogans have been raised by hardliners during the anniversary functions. Clashes also took place in the last two years.

The Punjab Police detained several radical Sikh leaders ahead of the anniversary as a preventive measure.

Several people, including security personnel, were killed in ‘Operation Bluestar’, the army’s action on the Golden Temple complex in June 1984 to flush out armed extremists led by Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Trauma centre on Mumbai-Pune Expressway lies half-finished

The trauma care centre wears a desolate look, with just a ground floor building and many empty rooms at Ozarde (near Talegaon) along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. This building has been lying idle for years now.Since early 2012, plans for operationalising a trauma care centre and air ambulance service along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway remain on paper. This thus goes to show that the state authorities have done precious little to save the lives of many accident victims, since they are denied ‘golden hour’ treatment despite the basic infrastructure being in place.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There are two quick response vehicles and ambulances in place to attend to accidents, but the trauma care centre is yet to be made operational,” said a senior Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) official.Some weeks ago, representatives from Siddhivinayak Temple Trust had visited the site at Ozarde to check the viability of taking up the organisational reins of the Centre to provide healthcare services. “The issue is before the board of directors. We are also keen on a chain of hospitals taking up the trauma care centre for operations,” the official added.It is only after the centre is equipped and operational that the air ambulance services can take off from the two helipads adjacent to the health facility. This centre has been designed to have health services of level-IV facility, which is aimed at attending to critical patients and providing surgical needs.”It is an ancillary service — unless the victims aren’t attended to at the trauma care centre, they cannot be transferred to other hospitals,” the official said. The entire set-up is spread over an area of 8 acres.However, even after four years of the facility being ready, state officials are unable to ensure that accident victims get golden hour treatment, which displays their lack of seriousness in saving precious human lives.

Punjab: SGPC bans media coverage in Golden Temple on Operation Bluestar anniversary

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Saturday banned media coverage at the premises of Golden Temple on June 6, the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar. The order in this connection was passed by SGPC Chief Secretary Harcharan Singh. In a letter written to Police Commissioner Amar Singh Chahal and District Public Relation Officer Sherjang Singh Hundal, Harcharan Singh sought help of the police to keep the media away from the periphery of Golden Temple on June 6 morning when the anniversary of Operation Bluestar is to be observed. Singh said media has always interfered in the SGPC programme, hence press coverage for electronic media as well as photo journalists will not be allowed as it may hurt sentiments of Sikh devotees. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Confirming the SGPC orders, Hundal said Harcharan Singh spoke to him over phone after sending a copy of orders to his office. ‘Akali Dal Amritsar’ led by Simranjit Singh Mann’s General Secretary Jarnail Singh Sakira while condemning the order said it was highly unfortunate since such order were not passed even during the Operation Blue Star in June in 1984.

Police crackdown on hardliners ahead of Operation Bluestar anniversary

Ahead of the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Punjab Police on Saturday detained several radical leaders in raids at various places in the state as a preventive measure to maintain law and order. In Ludhiana, three Sikh hardliners, including Dal Khalsa leader Daljit Singh Bittu, were apprehended, police said. Police also detained Sikh activist Manvinder Singh Giaspura and Jaswant Singh Cheema, local leader of SAD (A), they said. The raids at the houses of various hardliners were carried out in the wee hours, they said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, some of the members of SAD (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa managed to escape, police said. “It is a preventive action before the (Operation) Bluestar anniversary to maintain law and order,” police said. In Bathinda, police arrested religious leader Hardeep Mehraj and United Akali Dal leader Gurdeep Singh in the wee hours. Patiala police also rounded up a few activists of the SAD (Amritsar). Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Avtar Singh Makkar said police had rounded up Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singh wala at Bathinda.Police have stepped up vigil in Amritsar and areas around the Golden Temple. In June, 1984, more than 1,000 people were killed in Operation Bluestar, the raid on Sikh’s holiest shrine Golden Temple to flush out extremists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Bhindrawale and his associates were killed in the operation. Meanwhile, Amrik Singh, who was ‘appointed’ Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar by a Sikh conclave last year, urged Sikhs to reach Amritsar on June 6 to participate in ‘ardass’ (prayer meeting) organised by various Sikh organisations to pay homage to those killed in Operation Bluestar. Addressing a gathering at Gurudwara Singh Sahib at Dharmkot in Moga district, he criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for allegedly undermining and misusing Sikh institutions. Police also cracked down on radicals in Moga district conducting raids at the houses of activists of Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa. Several activists were rounded up as a preventive measure, police said.

LDF govt not to ‘hurt’ anybody on Sabarimala women entry issue

The LDF government in Kerala would not take any decision that would hurt anybody on the issue of entry of women of menstruating age in the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, state Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Tuesday said. Addressing a meet-the-press here, Surendran said, “The government will not take any decision that would hurt anybody …it will take any decision only after consulting all groups.” The issue had not yet been discussed either in the ruling front or by the ministry, he said. He further said he was only a politician and not competent enough to say how the entry of women would affect the rituals of the temple. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The case is under the consideration of the Supreme Court and it will take a decision in this regard. I am not the right person to say how the entry of women will affect the rituals of Ayyappa Temple. There are competent people to comment on the matter and they will speak,” the Minister said. Women in the age group of 10-50 are banned entry in the temple, which attracts lakhs of devotees. Asked about the decision to dissolve the Devaswom Recruitment Board and entrust the job to the state-run Public Service Commission, he said there was no need for an institution like Devaswom Recruitment Board for the purpose. “Our decision was only to leave the recruitment of clerical staff and engineers, who are very less in number, to PSC. And not the recruitment of priests. There is no need for a separate devaswom recruitment board for the purpose,” he said. Surendran slammed the previous UDF government for constituting the board. The PSC would make appointments after meeting all necessary formalities and procedures, he added.

Uttarakhand: Roads to Kedarnath temple closed due to heavy rains

Heavy rainfall in Ghansali area of district of Tehri, in Uttarakhand has led to closing down of roads to Kedarnath Temple.A a house and a school damaged too was damaged in Tehri. Roads in Chamiyala and Bhenswara areas in Tehri and Uttarkashi too are blocked due to landslide are being cleared by Police.More details are awaited.

Rajnath Singh’s remarks on Ram temple exposes BJP’s ‘double face’: Congress

Taking a strong exception to Union Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks that the BJP would contest the UP polls on development plank and not on the issue of Ram temple construction, the Congress party on Saturday said Singh’s comment exposed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘double-face’.”Dubiousness is a habit of the BJP; one leader says something, while the other says something else. In the case of Ram Temple, Subramanian Swamy says the temple will be constructed by coming December. And now, Rajnath Singh says this is a non-issue. It is important to note that both of them are members of the BJP Working Committee, so they expose the double face of the saffron party,”Congress leader Pramod Tiwari told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tiwari asked if the Ram Temple matter is not a plank for the UP elections, then why there is a political discussion and repeated comments by top leaders over the issue.”More importantly when the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, why these unwarranted statements are coming from the VHP and the BJP leaders,” he said.The Home Minister said his party would fight next year’s assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh on the issue of development and not on the issue of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, citing it as an important ‘cultural issue’ and not political.”The Ram Mandir issue is not a political, but a cultural issue. The matter is also sub judice. The matter is in the Supreme Court and we are only waiting for the judgment,” Rajnath said.Asked whether polarisation would benefit BJP, Rajnath said his party never indulged in the politics of communal polarisation for votes.

Will ensure work on Ram temple starts this year-end: Subramanian Swamy

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday said that one of his missions for the year is to ensure that work to build a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya begins by December. Swamy also said he will actively pursue the National Herald case that involved Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi among others. The case is currently pending before the courts. He was speaking at an event organised by Bhartiya Kisan Abhiyan here. The BJP leader further said that he will take up issues related to the farm sector next year.

Uttarakhand: BJP MP Tarun Vijay injured after scuffle, hospitalized

BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay on Friday has been seriously injured after scuffle outside Silgur Devta Temple in Uttarakhand. He suffered head injuries in the scuffle.His car has also been vandalized. Vijay is a BJP MP from Uttarakhad. Vijay was the editor of Panchajanya – RSS mouthpiece – from 1986 to February 2008. He also writes for the Daily Pioneer.Watch this space for more details are awaited.

Congress demands Odisha govt to publish white paper on Jagannath Temple condition

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the scheduled visit of a central team which will inspect the condition of Sri Jagannath temple at Puri on Friday, opposition Congress demanded on Thursday that the state government release a a white paper on the state of the 12th century shrine.

“People of Odisha must be informed about the actual condition of Sri Jagannath temple. They should know whether there is immediate danger to the temple. The state government and ASI must publish a white paper on the condition of the shrine,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan told reporters after visiting the temple at Puri.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Accompanied by leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress, Harichandan said, “The state government in 1992 had published a white paper on the condition of Sri Jagannth temple after certain stone fell from it. As the uncertainty continues over safety of the temple which created anxiety among the people, the state government must publish authentic document.”

Harichandan alleged that both the BJP-led Centre and the BJD government in the state are responsible for the delay in repair of the ‘Jagamohan’ — the prayer hall of the temple.

“The repair work of the Jagamohan has been put on hold just for Rs 2.5 crore. This is really unfortunate for the people of the state,” Harichandan said.

Odisha: Congress demands white paper on safety of Jagannath Temple

Ahead of the scheduled visit of a central team which will inspect the condition of Sri Jagannath temple at Puri on Friday, opposition Congress on Thursday demanded that the state government release a white paper on the state of the 12th century shrine.”People of Odisha must be informed about the actual condition of Sri Jagannath temple. They should know whether there is immediate danger to the temple. The state government and ASI must publish a white paper on the condition of the shrine,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan said after visiting the temple at Puri.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accompanied by leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress, Harichandan said, “The state govenrment in 1992 had published a white paper on the condition of Sri Jagannth temple after certain stone fell from it. As the uncertainty continues over safety of the temple which created anxiety among the people, the state government must publish authentic document.”
ALSO READ CM Naveen Patnaik inspects cracks in Sri Jagannath temple, central team to visit PuriHarichandan alleged that both the BJP-led Centre and the BJD government in the state are responsible for the delay in repair of the ‘Jagamohan’– the prayer hall of the temple. “The repair work of the Jagamohan has been put on hold just for Rs 2.5 crore. This is really unfortunate for the people of the state,” Harichandan said.

I have not left Haji Ali movement, but Sabarimala is equally important: Trupti Desai

While her intervention led to lifting of ban on women in the sanctum sanctorium of Maharahstra’s two oldest temples – Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar – activist Trupti Desai decision to leave the fight of Haji Ali Dargah in the middle led to huge criticism and ridicule. Desai seeks to justify her stand in an interview with Kanchan Srivastava. Excerpts:Q: You had announced a movement seeking justice for women at Haji Ali Dargah which has in 2011 discontinued women’s entry to the core area. Within two weeks, you left that fight in the middle and took up Sabarimala issue. Isn’t this approach proving your critics right, that you are doing all this for mere publicity?<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A: I have not left the fight on Haji Ali shrine issue. I have just withdrawn my support to the forum “Haji Ali for All” as it was opposed to my aggressive approach towards the issue. All those NGOs which are part of that forum work at slow pace. I assure you and the people that I am still part of the Haji Ali movement. Just that I would henceforth do it on my own. I have already planned a flashmob for Haji Ali. Under fresh strategy, I have decided not to pre-announce the date and time of my movement for the dargah.Q: How do you plan to take ahead the movement to Sabarimala’s Ayappa temple which restricts entry of women who are in menstrual age, between 10 to 55 years?A: Our team of 15-20 members would go to Sabarimala this month end, the date of which is yet to be finalised. The plan is to meet the trustees of the temple to apprise them about our demand of equal rights to pray for women. We are not sure about the demonstration outside the temple as of now. Schedule for Kerala is still being chalked out.Q: Don’t you think that your attempt to challenge the centuries-old tradition and the rules of Travancore Devaswom Board (which runs Sabarimala temple) will be met with stiff opposition?A: There would be no forced entry to the temple. We believe in democratic process. A letter to the Sabarimala trust is being prepared which would be despatched in a day or two. We would wait for their response hoping that they would agree to abolish the old-age traditions. Our strategy will be chalked out depending up on the trust’s response and outcome of our meeting with the trust members.Q: The trust and religious leaders argue that the deity is a Brahmchari (celibate) and hence young women in menstrual age should not be permitted there.A: First of all, menstruation period is not a dirty thing. Even if the trustees believe so, they can restrict women on those four days. Why punish women for rest of 26 days? Secondly, Lord Hanuman and Shani Dev are also brahmcharis, but women are not barred from visiting their temples. So, both the arguments are flawed. God never discriminates between the gender. Such ideas are floated by a few with patriarchal mindset. Only religious places are pursuing gender discriminatory in this 21st century, treating women as second grade citizens.Q: The Sabarimala trust has defended the ban in Supreme Court, stating that ‘tradition’ is connected to essential religious practice. Kerala government has also told the court that “the opinion of the priests is final” in matters of religion. With political parties also mum on the issue, do you expect support from any quarter in Kerala?A: I hope women will support me. Temple trusts can’t do dadagiri anymore. I wish trustees come forward to change such discriminatory rules themselves.

Bring back Kohinoor and gift it to Jagannath Temple: BJD MP in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: A demand for getting back the Kohinoor diamond from Britain and giving it to the Jagannath Temple in Puri, as had been willed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was made in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Raising the issue through a Zero Hour mention, Bhupinder Singh (BJD) said Maharaja Ranjit Singh had willed that the Kohinoor diamond be given to Jagannath Temple as Guru Nanak Dev had visited Puri and mentioned about the diety in the holy book of Guru Granth Saheb.

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

He demanded that the diamond be brought back and restored to whom the Maharaja had willed it to be given.

The Centre had recently told the Supreme Court that the heirs of Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave the 105-carat Kohinoor to the British as “voluntary compensation” to cover the expenses of the Anglo-Sikh Wars.

The diamond is on display at the Tower of London.

The BJD leader said it was incorrect to say that the heirs of Maharaja Ranjit Singh had converted to Christianity and offered the diamond to British.

Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said every member “will be happy is Kohinoor is brought back.”

PL Punia (Cong) raised the issue of shortage of judges in courts saying the country had 17 judges per 10 lakh population as against a requirement of 50 judges.

The shortage of judges was impacting speedy delivery of justice, he said, adding that judges spent between 2 to 15 minutes on a case.

He demanded that the collegium system of appointing judges must be scrapped and replaced by a transparent system of appointment and vacancies filled up at earliest.

Also, an ‘All India Judicial Service’ be set up and reservation to SC, ST and OBCs given at all levels of judicial appointments, he said.

Once these things are done, “Chief Justice of India will not have to cry in front of the Prime Minister,” he said alluding to the Chief Justice almost breaking down in front of Narendra Modi recently over vacancies in judiciary.

Why did Trupti Desai’s much touted march to Haji Ali Dargah fizzle out?

What prevented Bhumata Ranragini Brigade head Trupti Desai from marching right into the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali Dargah on Thursday?  Desai’s decision to not enter the innermost sanctum was baffling, as when it comes to breaking age-old traditions of banning women from entering the most sacred part of some of India’s most famous religious shrines, she has of late become a phenomenon.

Earlier this year, when Trupti Desai successfully marched into the Shani Singapur Temple and performed an aarti at the inner sanctum, she debunked a 400-year-old custom. In an earlier story in Firstpost, it was reported that the trust of Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra had finally allowed women to enter the temple. Similarly, she was instrumental in securing the rights of women to enter the Trimbakeshwar Temple (even though days later some women were allegedly manhandled by a group while trying to enter the inner sanctum).

On 20 April, NGOs and activists formed the ‘Haji Ali Sabke Liye’ campaign, lead by Desai, to protest against the ban on entry of women into the sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah, a 15th Century shrine in Mumbai. However, till 2011, women were allowed to enter the inner sanctum, reported CNN-News18.

Trupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLiveTrupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLive

Trupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLive

Feminism naturally has its enemies. And Desai isn’t certainly short of them. Her proposed march to the Dargah’s inner chambers angered an All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader. According to ANI, Haji Rafat Husain, threatened to smear black ink on her. Another from the Shiv Sena threatened to greet her with slippers.

But nothing could deter her. With her mind on a “peaceful march”, Desai set forth to Haji Ali and arrived at 4 p.m., when she suddenly changed her mind. Desai wouldn’t enter the inner shrine as she had initially planned to. What went wrong? Was it because Desai was a Hindu and the place she had decided to enter, belonged to Islam? Or was it because she was intimidated by the group of men who had assembled in front of the Dargah to stop Desai from entering? Was the problem patriarchal or communal? Perhaps, Trupti Desai can only best answer these questions.

The hegemony of patriarchy has long dictated what women should and should not do, eat, think, behave, dress… It sometimes takes a peaceful protest to shake things up. But what is the point of feminism if it’s foot soldiers and leaders change their mind halfway and turn back? Where do we go from there?

Are you associating menstruation with impurity? SC questions Sabarimala temple board

The Supreme Court, which is currently hearing a plea to allow women to enter the Sabarimala temple, lambasted the Travancore Devaswom Board for being unfair and for their stand on banning entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.

Slamming the temple board for being unfair, the Supreme Court asked: “Is menstruation a tool to measure the purity of women? How will you measure the purity of men?”

Raising pertinent questions about the controversial issue, the Supreme Court on Monday championed the rights of women to pray without being restricted by the various practices of tradition. On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had made it clear that his government would not interfere in the customs and traditions of the hill shrine.

“Government doesn’t interfere beyond a point on matters with regard to (religious) customs and faith,” Chandy said when asked about the stand of his government on the issue.

The Supreme Court on Monday, very pointedly told the Sabarimala temple administration, “You are making a classification. Can a biological phenomenon be a reason for discrimination? All practices are acceptable till there is no distinction between genders.”

The Temple administration, according to ANI news, argued that the hill where women are not allowed is sanctified and this tradition dates back to hundreds of years. “When recruitment for the armed forces take place, citizens between 18-24 years of age are considered. It may seem as classification amongst men, but reason is endurance,” the temple administration told the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court raised the following questions for the Sabarimala temple administration:

“If men can go till a point (near the temple) without undertaking austere activities, why can’t women go If tests of austerity apply to men, why can’t women undertake them? Are you associating menstruation with impurity? You are making a classification. Can a biological phenomenon be a reason for discrimination? All practices are acceptable till there is no distinction between genders.”

Sabarimala temple row: Cannot interfere with religion beyond a point, says CM Chandy

Kochi: Amid debate on the issue of entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 in the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Sunday made it clear that his government would not interfere in the customs and traditions of the hill shrine.

“Government doesn’t interfere beyond a point on matters with regard to (religious) customs and faith,” Chandy said when asked about the stand of his government on the issue.

The Chief Minister, who is in the midst of the assembly election campaign, said his government has already made its stand clear on the issue of Sabarimala where entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 is banned.

Kerala Chief Minsiter Oomen Chandy. AFP

Kerala Chief Minsiter Oomen Chandy. AFP

“There are persons who have the right to deal with matters related to faith and customs…Let them take decisions on such issues,” Chandy told PTI, reacting to a query.

When it was pointed out that some Hindu organisations and even the RSS have supported women’s entry at temples, Chandy said, “We don’t want to get into that controversy.”

“This is a matter related to customs and faith. There are people who have the right to take decisions on such issues,” he said. Last week, two religious bodies moved the Supreme Court supporting a PIL seeking entry of women in the Sabarimala Temple, saying no ritual or customs can be used as grounds to discriminate against women in the matter of worship.

Kerala-based bodies ─ Hind Navotthana Pratishtan, through President Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, through its Managing Trustee Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, have filed the plea seeking to intervene in the PIL, being heard by a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.

“No temple ritual, ceremony or custom can be made any ground for discriminating against women in the matter of worshipping in any temple, including Sabarimala, as it is a clear violation of the constitutional equality and freedom guaranteed for men and women alike,” the plea, filed through lawyer Ravi P Mehrotra, has said.

Earlier, the court had said gender equality was a “constitutional message” and ban on entry of women of a particular age group in Sabarimala shrine cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management.

On 11 January, the apex court had questioned the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age group at the Lord Ayyappa temple, while hearing the PIL.

Indian temple awarded for lending deity jewellery in Singapore

An Indian temple trust was among nine patrons awarded in Singapore for lending its exquisite century-old deity jewellery on loan for 10 years to Indian Heritage Centre and helping provide “greater insight” into Indian culture.The jewellery which includes a necklace made of rubies, emeralds, diamonds and a gem-studded crown was loaned by Saigon Chettiars Temple Trust and came from Thendayuthapani Temple which was established 200 years ago in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Saigon Chettiars Temple Trust has strengthened the IHC’s storyline with its loan of beautiful deity jewellery, which gives us greater insight into the many perspectives of Indian culture,” said Singapore’s Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who gave away distinguished supporter of heritage award to the trust.
ALSO READ Heritage marries ModernityThe jewellery is on loan for 10 years, said Ashwin Muthiah, who represented the trust at the award ceremony held on Thursday.The jewellery came from Nagaratas, also known as Nattukottai Chettiars, sometimes in 1900 or before for deities at the Thendayuthapani temple, established about 200 years ago, said Muthiah, executive chairman of AM International Holdings Pvt Ltd.
ALSO READ Indian culture inclusive, accommodative: Rajnath SinghThe High Commission of India in Singapore was given a “Supporter” award for donation of Bronze Busts of Indian Leaders to the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC).Former Singapore President S R Nathan was also awarded for contributing a ‘Group of Indian National Army Related Photographs and Publications’.Shirin and Rustom Ghadiali were also honoured for lending Parsi Silver Ritual objects and Sarjit Singh for offering Collection of Artefacts pertinent to the Sikh Police and Armed Forces in Singapore and Malaya.Others honoured with awards were R Gangatharan Davar, Leaena Tambyah and Gayatri Roy for their contribution and lending of Indian artefacts from their ancestors to the IHC. Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong inaugurated the IHC on May 7 last year in the heart of Little India, a colourful, thriving neighbourhood that caters predominantly to the Tamils and Chinese.Blending both traditional and modern Indian architectural aspects, the IHC celebrates many contributions of the Indian community to Singaporean society.

Trupti Desai, other women activists offer prayers at Trimbakeshwar temple’s inner sanctum

Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai, along with other women activists, offered prayers at the inner sanctum of the Nashik’s Trimbakeshwar temple, where the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum was prohibited for ages.Desai’s entry into the inner sanctum comes a day after activists, led by Vanita Gutte of Pune-based Swarajya Mahila Sanghatana, offered prayer inside the ‘garbha griha’ of the shrine, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ in the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhumata Brigade activists have been raising their voice against the temples where entry of women is prohibited.
ALSO READ Equal rights to pray: Trupti Desai to lead movement at Haji Ali dargah on April 28The group’s relentless agitations had forced the authorities at the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar earlier this month to yield to their demands and allow women into the sanctum of the shrine.
ALSO READ Attackers tore my clothes, planned to kill me at Mahalaxmi Temple, alleges Trupti Desai ​Speaking to media after the pooja, Desai vowed to continue her fight against the differential treatment meted out to the fairer sex at religious places.”Prayed to the God. The way we were allowed to offer prayers at inner sanctum today, women should be allowed respectfully in all temples across nation. We will take our fight to national level, we will also meet Prime Minister Modi next month,” she said.
ALSO READ Trupti Desai manages to enter Mahalakshmi temple inner sanctum despite locals’ attempting to block herThis significant development came 13 days after women were permitted entry to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district on 8 April.During the hearing on the Shani Shingnapur issue, the Bombay High Court had observed that entering a temple was a fundamental right of every person, after which the temple trust finally decided to allow women on April 8.

Kollam temple tragedy: Kerala to seek Rs 117 crore aid from Centre

Kannur: The Kerala government on Monday said it would seek Rs 117 crore aid from the Centre for rehabilitating victims who suffered losses in the 10 April Puttingal Devi Temple fire tragedy at Kollam that killed 108 people.

File image of the charred remains. Getty images

File image of the charred remains. Getty images

“The assistance has been sought for rehabilitation of the injured, compensation to be paid for property loss suffered and treatment expenses of the injured,” Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters on Monday.

The Chief Minister stated that many of the injured in the fire, which had damaged several houses in and around the temple, would not be able to do any work for the rest of their lives.

A three member cabinet sub-committee,comprising Ministers Adoor Prakesh, V S Sivakumar and Shibu Baby John had visited the site and taken stock of the damage caused, he said.

The government decided to seek the central aid after considering the report submitted by the committee, he said.

The tragedy had struck around 3.30 am on Sunday during a display of fireworks at the temple complex, where thousands of people had gathered to witness it.

The mishap occurred as sparks from fireworks fell on the storeroom ‘Kambapura’ and the crackers kept there exploded.

The blaze spread quickly trapping devotees within the complex.

More than 300 injured persons are still undergoing treatment at hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

Rajiv Gandhi would have constructed the Ram Temple if he had become PM again, says Subramanian Swamy

He is a strident critic of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the man behind their legal troubles, but BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Sunday hailed Rajiv Gandhi for his “noble efforts” to resolve the Ayodhya dispute and said the Congress leader would have built a Ram temple if elected Prime Minister for a second term.”I have known Rajiv Gandhi very well. Had he become Prime Minister once again, he would have definitely constructed the Ram Temple at the same place (where the demolished Babri mosque stood). He had got the Ram temple (Babri masjid) unlocked and allowed the shilanyas (foundation laying) ceremony for the Ram temple,” he said addressing a seminar here on ‘Why Shri Ram Temple at Ayodhya and How’. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP leader, who has dragged Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and deputy Rahul to court in the National Herald case, said Rajiv Gandhi had started “upholding the concept of Ram Rajya” but things changed after his untimely demise. Swamy said he was making efforts to build a consensus over hearing of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case by the Supreme Court on a daily basis. The former Union minister claimed he had spoken to Muslim leaders involved in the case about the proposal and they had even agreed in principle. However, when it was their turn to back the proposal in the court, they kept “mum”, he said. The BJP leader hoped the final verdict by the Supreme Court will pave the way for construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. He said the construction work could begin before the end of the current year. To a question on whether the country needed schools, hospitals, roads and toilets more or a Ram temple, he said “This (development) is the job of the government and the government is doing it in a fine way. Government will take care of it. Let me do my job (to pursue temple construction).”

The Supreme Court and religion in India: A blinkered perspective?

Editor’s note: This is the concluding segment of a three-part series on Hinduism, godmen and the judiciary

The Supreme Court appears to have made the right sounds when it announced that temples could not be taken over by governments in perpetuity. The apex court sent out a similar message when it forbade the government from taking charge of the gold that was found in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. It stated that the gold belonged to the temple and the community, and not to the government. Currently, the gold is being looked after by a special committee constituted by the apex court.

The apex court did the same thing when it passed an order nullifying the diktat of the Tamil Nadu government regarding the takeover of the Chidambaram Trust.

But there are times when the Court has unwittingly allowed some of the most retrograde decisions to be taken.

SC and religion chart 2 listicleSC and religion chart 2 listicle

A good case in point is the way in which the Supreme Court allowed the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to reserve an area of 150 km radius around the Niyamgiri hills which was considered sacred by the local population.

To be fair the Supreme Court only ordered the government to respect the decision of the local panchayat in September 2013. The 12 gram panchayats (village councils) in turn, prodded by the MOEF passed a resolution stating that there should be no mining within a 150 km radius from the hilltop of Niyam Raja, the presiding deity of the tribals in that region. The panchayats claimed that “the entire Niyamgiri hill range is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood”.

What the Court did not take into account was that a 150-km radius translates into 70,000 square km. Compare this with the geographical spread of some of the most sacred places in the world.

Vatican City, for instance, accounts for barely 0.4 sq km. And do bear in mind that Christianity is the world’s biggest religion if one goes by the number of followers it has.

The holiest of shrines for Muslims, the second most populous faith, Masjid al-Haram, which contains the venerated Kaaba, is spread over just 0.4 sq km. Unlike most religions, this is where Muslims from all over the world congregate at a fixed time of the year. Yet, it has not seen any reason to claim rights over more space.

Tirupati city, not just the temple, accounts for 24 sq km. And this includes the schools, the colleges and the temples that exist within this area. And this despite the fact that Tirupati has a higher density of population than many of the countries in which the above religious centres exist.

So what makes Niyamgiri more important than the rest of the world? Was the MoEF stark raving mad when it decided to support such a resolution? Or does it have something to do with the alleged “Jayanthi tax” that many believed was the guiding principle for granting environmental clearances for projects?

Consider the implications of such a move. What would happen if a tribe settled along the banks of the Ganges or the Yamuna were to claim that “the entire river is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood and hence should not be exploited for development”?

So, should one ban cities along the banks of the rivers? Should one scrap the Ganga and Yamuna expressways?  What if another tribe that dwells near the Himalayas echoes similar views and claims that the “entire mountain range is sacred for us and the source of our livelihood”? No sane government would buy such an argument.

That is why the apex court needs to be more careful before granting rights to tribals that nobody in the entire world has. If the tribals have rights, so do industrialists. So do people who want development. Having a blinkered perspective on religious rights can be both vexatious and pernicious.

Part I: Does Hindusim produce more godmen than other religions?

Part II: The Supreme Court’s attempts to rescue Indian temples

‘Wear wet clothes’: Trimbakeshwar temple allows entry of women on one offensive condition

Nashik: Amid the campaign for gender equality, the Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust in Maharashtra has decided to allow women into the famous Lord Shiva temple’s sanctum sanctorum for an hour everyday, but with a rider that they must wear wet cotton or silk clothes while offering prayers in the core area.

However, the women activists have refused to abide by the condition and have lodged a complaint with police against the trust members and local people for purposely obstructing their entry into the temple.

The trust took the decision at a meeting on Wednesday to allow women into the temple’s ‘garbha griha’ sanctum sanctorum from on Thursday from 6 to 7 am and with the conditions attached to it, Lalita Shinde, one of the temple trustees, said.

Representational image. SolarisRepresentational image. Solaris

Representational image. Solaris

The decision was taken following an agitation by Pune-based Swarajya Sanghatana, headed by Vanita Gutte.

However, Gutte and fellow-campaigners refused to enter the core area of the temple on Thursday morning with the condition of wearing wet clothes.

However, during that time several local priests wearing ‘sovala’ (silk clothing) entered the sanctum sanctorum to perform the puja. In the argument between the temple authorities and the activists, the time limit of 6-7 am got over, Shinde said.

Meanwhile, based on a complaint by Gutte that they were being obstructed from entering the temple, police on Thursday night registered offences against nearly 250 people, including members of the temple trust, some local priests and temple workers, under relevant sections, Trimbakeshwar police station in-charge Haribhau Kolhe said on Friday.

“We will have to check the footage of 45 CCTV cameras, other things to identify persons, against whom Swarajya Sanghatana chief Vanita Gutte has lodged complaint,” he said.

According to police, Gutte and other women activists left the holy town on Thursday.

Watch: Locals block Trupti Desai from entering inner sanctum of Kolhapur’s Mahalakshmi temple

Bhoomata Ranragini Brigade leader Trupti Desai was stopped from entering the inner sanctum of Kolhapur’s Mahalaxmi temple by locals. The incident happened despite police presence in the temple. In the video, locals are seen blocking Desai and even pushing her away when she tried to enter the sanctum even as the police failed to bring the situation in control. Desai and other activists were earlier taken into preventive custody when they tried to proceed towards famous Mahalaxmi temple here in procession allegedly in violation of prohibitory orders.Desai and other activists organised the ‘Vijay’ rally to mark “victory” for the cause of women who were recently allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in a major departure from the long-standing tradition. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Desai and other were stopped in Tararani Chowk by police where they had gathered to organise the procession. The atmosphere around the temple was tense and shops downed shutters as activists of Shiv Sena and other organisations gathered in the area after Desai insisted to take darshan of the deity, clad in salwar kameez instead of sari, the formal dress code suggested by police and priests. Deputy SP Bharatkumar Rane said police tried to convince Desai against going in procession but she did not budge. She was taken into preventive custody for maintaining law and order, he said.

Following Kollam tragedy, fireworks banned in AP temple festival

Vijayawada: The Endowments Department of Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday issued an order banning use of fireworks as part of any temple festival in the state, days after the tragic Kollam temple fire in Kerala claimed 113 lives.

Revenue (Endowments) Principal Secretary J S V Prasad issued an order to this effect and directed executive officers of all temples in the state to take necessary precautionary measures with immediate effect.

Prasad also directed the Endowments Commissioner to take further action in the matter.

Referring to the Kollam temple fire, he said lesson must be learned from this unfortunate incident that turned a temple festival into a “tragedy of grave proportions”.

A file photo of Kollam fire. PTIA file photo of Kollam fire. PTI

A file photo of Kollam fire. PTI

“The government has noted that a competitive fireworks display which flouted rules and regulations has turned the temple festival in Kollam, Kerala, into a tragedy of grave proportions. It is necessary to draw lessons from this unfortunate incident so that such tragedies can be averted,” Prasad said in an order.

No fireworks shall henceforth be used as part of any temple festival.

“Even if it is contemplated as per tradition of any particular temple, prior approval of the local District Administration must be taken,” he added.

The Executive Officer of the most famous Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has been asked to undertake a thorough review of Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, as well as other shrines under his control and upgrade facilities to prevent fire accidents.

He suggested fire safety measures like widening of Mada streets (surrounding the main temple), proper electrification, installation of fire safety devices, ensuring clear entry and exit routes and also emergency fire escape routes and not raising thatched structures on temporary basis during summer.

Executive officers have also been asked to take steps to see that good quality electrical wiring was done and wires
passed only through conduits.

Adequate circuit-breakers should be installed to avoid short circuits, Prasad added.

Death rises to 113 in Kerala temple fire tragedy

With one more person succumbing to injuries tonight, the toll in the Puttingal Devi temple tragedy has gone up to 113.The latest victim was 40-year-old Manikandan from Kollam who died at the Trivandrum Medical College Hospital, hospital sources said. Earlier, 14-year-old Sabari, said to be the youngest victim of the Puttingal Devi temple tragedy, Satyan (55), from nearby Kazhakootam and Surendran (67), one of the fireworks contractors, had succumbed to injuries at the same hospital.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Satyan had suffered 60% burns, the two others had suffered 90 per cent burns, hospital sources said. Sabari’s weeping mother had been praying in front of the burns ICU at the hospital, hoping her young son would pull it through. But it was not to be and he succumbed to injuries this evening. The condition of 24 of the injured persons continues to be serious.A total of 1,039 persons were treated as outpatients in various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. The fire tragedy at the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex took place during an unauthorised fireworks display early on Sunday after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers, triggering explosions.

Cops ask women’s rights activist Trupti Desai to wear saree in Kolhapur’s Mahalaxmi temple

A fresh controversy erupted today with Bhoomata Ranragini Brigade leader Trupti Desai alleging the police told her to wear a saree while she visits the Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur tomorrow for a darshan of the deity.Desai told reporters she received a “telephonic advice” from an officer at Rajwada police station in Kolhapur this evening.She alleged that the officer asked her to visit the temple clad in a saree, and not in salwar kameez, to honour the existing tradition while entering the inner sanctum. “I have told them I was not going to wear short skirt or jeans. Salwar kameez is a comfortable Indian attire. I will not wear saree,” she said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Desai, who spearheaded a successful campaign seeking entry for women in Shani Shingnapur shrine, also played a taped conversation she purportedly had with the officer.The officer, identified as Anil Deshmukh, senior police inspector, purportedly urges Desai to honour the tradition, saying even men who enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple are required to wear ‘sovle’ (a special dhoti worn for performing religious rituals).The officer said if Desai turns up wearing a saree, it would not hurt sentiments of people and help police maintain law and order. Desai is scheduled to visit the temple tomorrow evening along with her co-activists. Breaking an age-old tradition, the trustees recently took a decision allowing women an unrestricted entry into the inner sanctum of the historical temple.When contacted, Deshmukh admitted to calling up Desai. Deshmukh said he requested her to wear saree as the priests at the temple did not allow some women who went there yesterday not clad in a saree.

Kerala temple fire tragedy: Firework contractor dies, toll at 111

The toll in the fire tragedy in Puttingal Devi Temple at Kollam rose to 111 with two more persons, including one of the fireworks contractors who carried out the display, succumbing to their injuries at the Medical College Hospital on Tuesday.The deceased fireworks contractor was identified as Surendran (67), from nearby Kazhakutttom. He had suffered 60% burns in the accident, police said.The other deceased was Sathyan (55) also from Kazhakuttom, who had suffered 90 per cent burns, police said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The accident at the century-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex occurred during competitive display of fireworks early Sunday morning after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers, triggering explosion.

A wonky Constitution: Why the law is loaded against the Sabarimala temple authorities

Given the trend of questioning in the Supreme Court, where women activists are fighting a ban on the entry of menstruating women in Sabarimala, it is clear that the temple authorities are fighting a losing battle.

On 11 April, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked questions that cannot but indicate how the case is going. Among the questions asked: “What right does the temple have to forbid women from entering any part of the temple? Every argument has to meet the test of constitutionality.”

Then: “Can you deny a woman her right to climb Mount Everest? The reasons banning anything must be common for all.”

Or take these questions and observations: “Why this kind of classification for devotees to visit the temple? We are on constitutional principles. Gender discrimination in such matters is untenable. You cannot create corrosion or erosion in constitutional values.”

And, finally: “We will be guided by (a) rational dimension and that is the Constitution. I just believe in the Constitution.”
The last one takes the cake. When did anything with a religious dimension have pure “rationalism” as its core? In fact, our Constitution itself hardly passes the test of rationality in the way it framed provisions on religious rights.

Crowds at the Sabarimala temple. File photo. ReutersCrowds at the Sabarimala temple. File photo. Reuters

Crowds at the Sabarimala temple. File photo. Reuters

Our constitution has an imbalanced approach to religious issues. In fact, it ties itself in knots by professing one high principle in one place, and then allowing exceptions to this principle in other places when it involves another community.

The contrast with the US Constitution is stark. The US Constitution has just 16 words to describe its approach to religious freedom, while we have multiple articles in our tome. The first amendment to the US Constitution, which deals with religious and other freedoms, has this to say:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

This simple sentence allows religious groups to practice what they preach: this could include the right to discriminate against homosexuals, oppose abortion, or practice polygamy (Mormons) or whatever, as long as an individual claims it is part of his or her religious faith or practice.

India, on the other hand, has elements in the constitution that say contradictory things. One part will say such laws will apply only to Hindus (including Sikhs, etc), and another says some laws will not apply to others. Our constitution is egalitarian in spirit, but discriminatory in many of its provisions.

Thus, civil laws will apply to Hindus, but not minorities.

Thus, you can make laws that discriminate against beef-eating, and still claim you don’t’ discriminate against minorities who want to eat beef.

Thus, you can make laws (like the Right to Education) that are supposed to be applicable to all, but not minority-unaided institutions.

Thus, you can profess the right to religious freedom, but states can also put in laws to hinder it.

This is why the Supreme Court can claim it is following the constitution, even while defeating the spirit of it.

The real villains are Articles 25, 29 and 30. Article 25 gives the state the right to interfere in how Hindu temples are run, but articles 29 and 30 give minorities the right to run their own institutions according to their own traditions and culture. This is why Sabarimala is a losing battle, but Haji Ali may not be.

Article 25 is about “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.”

It says: “(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

This should have given Sabarimala the space to argue that its practices are part of its religious belief, but there is an important “but” in Article 25.

It says: “(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the state from making any law
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”

Article 25(2)(b) would thus allow the Supreme Court, if not the government, to claim that Sabarimala is an institution of public character and should be “open to all classes and sections of Hindus.”

Given the recent tendency of the Supreme Court to make the law rather than just interpret it, the fact that the Kerala government is on the Sabarimala temple’s side may not matter much.

On the other hand, Article 29 gives minorities the right to protect their culture and institutions. It says, inter alia, that “(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

If Sabarimala had not been covered under Article 25(2)(b) which gives the state the right to enforce its own idea of egalitarianism, it could have claimed protection under Article 29. Article 29 negates a part of the ideas in Article 25. Giving minorities a right not enjoyed by a majority is essentially iniquitous, but the Supreme Court may not spend much time discussing this anomaly.

Clearly, the Indian Constitution is a mish-mash of contradictory provisions. It needs to be seriously rewritten.
This is not to say that Sabarimala is right to keep out menstruating women, but we can’t deny that our laws are wonky.

Kerala temple fire: Nepal PM Oli condoles Narendra Modi over loss of lives

Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Tuesday called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express condolences over the Kerala fire tragedy on Sunday.Oli called Modi this morning and expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire mishap. Thousands of people had gathered Puttingal Devi Temple complex in Kerala’s Kollam to witness the unauthorised display of fireworks. 109 people were killed when a fire broke out on Sunday at the 100-year-old temple.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five people have been detained in connection with the deadly inferno. The state government has ordered a judicial probe by a retired High Court Judge along with an investigation by Crime Branch into the tragedy.