Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has decided to free 51 Hindu Temples from government control. This decision comes after the massive protests which happened early last year against the government’s decision to enact the Chardham Shrine Management Board Act 2019 to oversee the management of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath and 51 other Temples.
This act, which was passed by ex-CM Trivendra Singh Rawat created a Uttarakhand Char Dhaam Devasthanam Board to oversee and manage affairs of various temples in the state.
This was met with resistance from the priest community as they alleged that they were kept in the dark about the law and the government took such a step to sideline them and ensure full government control of temple-related issues. Many priests had protested bare-chested in front of the Kedarnath Temple in the harsh Himalayan cold against this law.
Also, temples under the government control in various other states are in dilapidated conditions due to poor maintenance which the priests feared will happen in Uttarakhand too. The priests have controlled the management of temples in Utrrakkahnd since time immemorial and it has been passed down from generation to generation. Priest of the Gangotri shrine Rajnikant Semwal had even met Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
This law would have given a free hand to the bureaucracy over the management of the temple finances which could have resulted in large-scale corruption as it is happening in Tamil Nadu. The government could have diverted the revenue generated from temples for other uses which have nothing to do with Hindu Dharma or could have monetized the assets of the temple in case of a financial emergency.
“There will be a review on the decision of formation of Char Dham Devasthanam Board. State government’s management over 51 prominent temples to be removed. The new act will help in the professional management of the shrines. ” said, CM Rawat.
In a ” secular ” country like India, it is not the function of any government to control temples or interfere in the day-to-day affairs of its wealth or management. Also, non-Hindu religious sites are usually out of government control. This decision by CM Rawat is a landmark one to uphold the secular credentials of Indian democracy.