The Uttarakhand government has scrapped the infamous Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, which brought four revered Hindu shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and 49 other temples under the purview of a shrine board. The priests associated with the shrines in the poll-bound state have been protesting against the legislation.
The act allowed the board to frame policies, sanction expenditure, etc as the highest governing body for the management of the shrines. The decision to repeal the law was taken on the day a deadline the government set to resolve the issue ended.
Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami formed a committee in July to look into the matter. The panel submitted its report last week, the government has thoroughly analyzed the report before taking the decision as per a Cabinet subcommittee’s recommendations.
CM Dhami said the government has decided to roll back the law based on the Cabinet subcommittee’s recommendations. He further added that “the government will speak to all the parties concerned now and take appropriate action on improving the facilities for the pilgrims. The repeal of the law would soon be approved by the Cabinet before bringing a Bill on the same in the assembly.”
Protesting priests rejoicing the decision
The protesting priests are rejoicing this decision and thanked the government for the move. “We are happy that the government has decided to repeal the Act. We are thankful that they have supported the truth and taken cognizance of our two years-long struggle. We have no grudges against anyone now,” said KK Kothiyal, president, Char Dham Haq Haqooqdhari Teerth Purohit Mahapanchayat. The priests were protesting against the Act under the banner of the Mahapanchayat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government passed the law when Trivendra Singh Rawat was the chief minister in 2019. The legislation triggered protests as priests associated with the four shrines opposed it. The priests have been accusing the government of snatching away their traditional rights associated with the shrines.