Nationwide Protests against Jharkhand Government results in Intervention of Central Government

by Subhechcha Ganguly

Since the contentious announcement by the Jharkhand government to develop Sammed Shikharji shrine as an ecotourism destination, a great deal of unusual unrest has broken out. For the Jain community, the hill temple is a crucial place of spiritual and religious worship. A never-before-seen level of uproar from the Jain community was apparent after the announcement, and it has only gotten worse since.The sacred place of Sammed Shikharji atop Parasnath hills in the modern-day Giridih district of Jharkhand is where 20 of the 24 Tirthankars, including Lord Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankara, obtained their spiritual redemption (moksha), according to Jain scriptures. The JMM-led administration of Jharkhand is facing fierce opposition from the Jains, who claim that the growth of tourism will encourage visitors to their holy location to consume alcohol and non-vegetarian food.

Another complaint of disrespect for the sanctity of a far-off holy site in Gujarat surfaced at Shetrunjay hill in Palitana, where recent incidents of vandalism of a shrine, unlawful encroachment, and sale of alcohol took place. This further fueled the demonstrations.The central government has now stopped any such activities in the bigger Parasnath Hills sanctuary in response to Jains’ concerns over the designation of their principal shrine Sammed Shikharji in Jharkhand as an ecotourism attraction.

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