Hemant cites SC order, to decide on reopening shrines next week
Chief Minister Hemant Soren directed the state disaster management secretary on Wednesday to follow Supreme Court's latest order and prepare accordingly for reopening the historic Baba Baidyanath Temple in Deoghar, thereby deferring any decision on reopening places of worship till the next week.
Chairing a meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) at the Vidhan Sabha building on Wednesday, Hemant was informed about the latest order of the apex court in response to a plea seeking a direction to the Jharkhand government to consider opening the centuries-old old temple.
“Please get a copy of the Supreme Court’s order and act accordingly,” the chief minister was quoted as saying in a press communique from his office.
As per this communique, Hemant has directed state disaster management secretary Amitabh Kaushal to get all the details of the SC orders regarding reopening of temples and meet next week to take a decision on the issue keeping in mind the Covid-19 situation in the state.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an urgent hearing of the plea to the direct reopening of the Baba Baidyanath Dham for worshippers, claiming that there was no need for urgency. A three-bench observed that people were suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic across the country and the matter of reopening temples did not require immediate attention.
"People are suffering from Covid-19 and you want the temple to open?" Chief Justice N.V Ramana said.
In the petitioner’s defence, lawyer Prashant Kumar told the court that cases of Covid-19 have dropped significantly in Jharkhand.
The Baba Baidyanath temple, one of the 12 jyotirlings of Lord Shiva, sees hundreds of devotees daily through the year. It has been closed for the public since the second wave of Covid-19 hit Jharkhand. Rituals at this temple are, however, performed daily by priests.
Various religious bodies from across the state have been pressing for reopening temples citing the rapidly dwindling financial condition of small-time businessmen solely dependent on worshippers who visit temples, gurudwaras and other religious places on a regular basis.
It was expected that the government would take a favourable decision regarding reopening places of worship at Wednesday's meet. But, no announcements regarding any further relaxations in Covid-induced restrictions were made.