Era ends at religious board

The state government today accepted Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts chairman Kishore Kunal's resignation.

By Amit Bhelari
  • Published 11.03.16

The state government today accepted Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts chairman Kishore Kunal's resignation.

Kishore - who joined the board as its administrator on May 23, 2006, and became its chairman in 2010 - had ushered in several changes in the board's functioning and streamlined functioning of trusts affiliated to it.

When he joined the board, its image had touched its nadir and corruption was rampant. Employees had not been paid for 100 months; the backlog amounted to Rs 30.5 crore.

The board's annual income is now over Rs 1 crore and employees are being paid on the first day of every month since Kishore joined. A partial grant from the state government helped.

The 1972-batch former IPS officer of Gujarat cadre denied any political pressure behind his resignation. "I have resigned because one should not stay for a long time," he said.

He had taken voluntary retirement from service in 2001. The board has authority over 4,700 registered temples and mutts across the state. All of these were under his supervision. Also, a hundred huge temples came up on old sites during his tenure. Important among them are the Garib Nath Mandir in Muzaffarpur, Chaturmukh Mahadev Mandir at Vaishali, Jagannath Mandir at Bodhgaya, Hanuman Mandir in Patna City and Ram Chaura Mandir at Hajipur. Thousands of temples got renovated and sale of temple property was banned.

"I made efforts to protect temples from the land mafia, squatters, criminals, builders and bahubalis (strongmen)," said Kishore, who was Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) in 1983-84 in the course of an inter-state deputation. "I thank the government, mahants, sadhus, sanyasis, trustee and the public for their cooperation in my endeavour to secure temples from the land mafia."

Kishore took strict action against a number of mahants who had misappropriated trust property. The best thing he did was to get a clause inserted, which redefined any religious trust receiving donation or offering as a public trust. The board was also empowered to decide the nature of a trust. Otherwise, most trusts would have remained private, and thus out of the board's ambit. He encouraged formation of temple trust committees in place of single trustee, a decision vehemently resented by a section of mahants.

Kishore (66) was officer of special duty in Ayodhya when V.P. Singh, and later Chandra Shekhar, was prime minister.

He has penned several books, among them Dalit Devo Bhava. As board chairman, he appointed two-dozen Dalit priests at important temples, including the Mahavir Mandir of Patna.

After his resignation, law department secretary Sanjay Kumar has been given the board's charge till a new chairman is appointed.

Kishore will continue to work as secretary of the Mahavir Mandir trust and also plans to supervise construction of a huge temple at Kesariya in East Champaran district, being built by the Mahavir Mandir trust.