| Bhagalpur district administration officials issue passes to dak bum kanwariyas in Sultanganj on Sunday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Hundreds of dak bums leaving Sultanganj in Bhagalpur to offer prayers at Lord Baidyanath temple in Deoghar on Sundays and Mondays during Shravan are unhappy to wait in queues with other devotees at the shrine.
The dak bums are devotees of Lord Shiva who run 100km from Sultanganj in Bhagalpur to Deoghar in Jharkhand with the water from the Ganga without any break.
On request from its counterparts at Deoghar, the Bhagalpur administration has told the dak bums that they would not enjoy the special privilege of not waiting in the queue to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Baidyanath temple on Sundays and Mondays during the holy month of the Hindu calendar. In the past, the dak bums had the advantage of not waiting in the queue of devotees.
Bhagalpur district magistrate Prem Singh Meena told The Telegraph on Sunday: “Since the decision concerns religious sentiments of thousands of pilgrims, we can only inform them. But we have to distribute passes to them.”
Krishna Pandey, alias Krishna bum, running as a dak bum every Monday in Shravan for the past 30 years, criticised the administrative decision. “How can they disregard matters of faith? The local officials have started curbing the rights of the devotees,” she alleged. Many dak bums on Sunday complained to Krishna bum about the alleged harassment they had faced in Deoghar on July 9.
On June 20, the divisional commissioners in Bhagalpur and Santhal Parganas apart from senior civil and police officials of the two divisions decided at a meeting that the Deoghar district administration would not entertain the dak bums and they would have to wait in queue like the general saffron-clad kanwariyas for their turn to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The Deoghar administration’s logic was that if the dak bums reached Deoghar on Mondays, when the count of regular pilgrims surpasses a lakh, it would be unable to arrange direct entry for them to the shrine.
It also requested the Bhagalpur administration not to issue special passes to any dak bum, particularly on Sundays. “We were surprised to find more than 70,000 dak bums on July 9. Despite our request, the Bhagalpur administration issued them passes on July 8,” said Deoghar deputy commissioner Rahul Purvar.