Centre bars tourism activity at Shri Sammed Shikharji in Jharkhand, amid protests

Members of Jain community stage a protest rally against the decision of Jharkhand government to declare 'Shri Sammed Shikharji' a tourist place and vandalisation of their temple in Palitana, Gujarat, in Mumbai | Photo: ANI

Ranchi (Jharkhand): In view of a series of protests by the Jain community, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupendra Yadav has asked the state to forbid all eco-tourism activities in the Shri Sammed Shikharji area.

The Jain community had been protesting against the Jharkhand government's tourism policy which aimed to develop Shri Sammed Shikharji, in Parasnath hills, as a tourist place.

"Met Jain community members who have been urging to protect the sanctity of Sammed Shikhar. Assured them that PM Shri @narendramodiji's government is committed to preserving and protecting the rights of Jain community over all their religious sites, including Sammed Shikhar," Tweeted Bhupendra Yadav.

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Taking prompt cognizance of the issue, the Ministry has put an immediate stay on implementing Clause 3 of the Eco-Sensitive Zone Notification, which includes tourism and eco-tourism activities.

He further said that the Sammed Shikhar falls in the eco-sensitive zone of Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary and Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary.

"Sammed Shikhar falls in the eco-sensitive zone of Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary and Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary. There is a list of prohibited activities that can't take place in and around the designated eco-sensitive area. Restrictions will be followed in letter and spirit," Tweeted Yadav.

After the Members of the Jain community staged a protest against the decision of the Jharkhand government to declare the Shri Sammed Shikharji a 'tourist' place, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday urged the Centre to take an "appropriate decision" on its August 2019 notification.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren wrote to Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department Bhupendra Yadav regarding the Shri Sammed Shikharji.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren wrote, keeping in mind the religious sentiments of Jain followers, urging them to take an appropriate decision in the context of notification No. O. 2795 (A) dated August 2, 2019, of the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Government of India.

The Chief Minister in the letter said, "The Parasnath Sammed Shikhar is a world-famous holy and revered pilgrimage site of the Jain community since mythological times."

"According to belief, Nirvana has been attained by 20 Tirthankaras out of total of 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism at this place. Due to the Jain religious importance of this place, Jain followers from every corner of India and the world come here for pilgrimage," the letter read.

Earlier on Thursday, protests were being held in several parts of the country against the Jharkhand government's decision.

"We do not want Shri Sammed Shikharji to be declared a tourist place. Our Jain Mandir is so pure that anybody can visit it," a Jain community member said.

The protesters claimed that the state government intends to disrupt the sanctity of the place by declaring the site a tourist spot.

Through their protest, the community representatives sought the Jharkhand government to revoke the declaration of the site as a tourist spot.

"Sammed Shikhar is the most ancient and sacred pilgrimage for the Jain community where 20 teaching gods out of the 24 attained salvation. Even today, we go there with clean clothes and bare feet," said Arihant Jain, Shri Digamber Jain Samaj.

The MLA of Ambala city, Aseem Goyal affirmed, "Not the Jain community but the entire community empathises with the Sammed Shikharji pilgrimage. Jain community's demand is valid and just. The Central government is also seriously considering this issue. Jharkhand government should take the 'Tughlaqi' notification back. I am personally with the Jain samaj on this."

Recently, the Jain saint Muni Sugyeya Sagar passed away on Tuesday in Rajasthan who was sitting on an indefinite hunger strike protesting the government's decision. Various representatives of the community blamed the Jharkhand government for his death.

Several protests have been carried out in various parts of the country including Mumbai, Aligarh, and Delhi.


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