Sunday, January 29, 2023

Jains protest decision to turn Shikharji Tirth into a tourist spot

Staff Reporter

Jain community in Nagaland at Dimapur, joined the community across the country in observing a one-day protest and bandh on December 21 as a mark of protest against the Jharkhand government’s decision to turn Shri Sammed Shikharji, one of the foremost Jain pilgrimage centres in the country, into an eco-tourism spot.
The Jain community of Dimapur under the banner of Shree Digambar Jain Samaj and Shree Jain Swetambar Terapanthi Sabha took out a rally Wednesday seeking withdrawal of declaration of Jain sanctorum Shri Sammed Shikher Ji Hill as Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary, eco-sensitive zone and permitting tourism and various non-religious activities at the site.
Around 300 men and women from the community gathered at DC court junction and marched towards DC’s office before submitting a memorandum to the President and Prime Minister of India through the DC.
The memorandum termed the declaration as “stigma” on the holiest place of Jains and on the entire community, pointing out that the sanctity of the “Holy Hill” would be destroyed. It stated that use of Parasnath Hill for tourism, including eco-tourism with temporary structure, movement of vehicular traffic, non-polluting industries, dairies, dairy farming, aquaculture & fisheries, establishment of large-scale commercial livestock and poultry farms by corporate, air balloons, drones, new roads, night traffic and commercial signboards would impact the religious belief of the Jains.
Referring to Articles 25 and 28 of the Indian Constitution, the memorandum reminded that every religion, especially minority communities, had the fundamental right of the freedom of religion and preserve their religious and holy places.
It pointed out that merging holy “Jain Tirth Parasnath Hill” and “Madhuban area” into a wildlife sanctuary to promote non-religious activities in the name of eco-sensitive zone would be violation of the constitutional right of the entire Jain community, declaring it unacceptable.
It stressed that there was a difference between a holy place and a tourism spot, demanding that Parasnath Hill needed to be respected as a holy place of the Jains.
Claiming that millions of Jains practised non-violence in their day-to-day life and even in their thoughts, the memorandum stated that despite that they had come to the streets after “Santhara (Sallekhana)” to protest against the destructive forces that were seeking to eliminate Jainism’s most sacred heritage sites.
The memorandums also stated that Vishwa Jain Sangathan had already sent grievance notices and representations on January 27 and March 17 this year to Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Home Affairs and Government of Jharkhand and seeking necessary security arrangements for maintaining sanctity of the holy places, but lamented that no action had been initiated to date.
The Jain community appealed to the President and Prime Minister to deliver justice by taking immediate action in this regard.
Meanwhile, DC Sachin Jaiswal acknowledged receipt of the memorandum and assured that the administration would study it before forwardingit to home commissioner and chief secretary for necessary action.
He further acknowledged and thanked the Jain community for always contributingpositively to Dimapur and the State.

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