Centre Stays All Tourist Activities In Sammed Shikharji, Jain Community Welcomes Decision

The Centre on Thursday stayed all tourist activities at the Jharkhand based Jain pilgrimage site, Sammed Shikharji mountain peak.

Parasnath Hills

The Centre on Thursday halted all tourist activities in Jharkhand's Parasnath Hills after severe backlash and protests from the Jain community across the country against the centre's 2019 notice to promote eco- tourism in the holy Jain Pilgrimage site. The Centre also directed the state government to take all necessary measures for the protection of the holy site.

The additional chief secretary of the state's forest department received an office memorandum from the Union Environment Ministry which followed directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in regard to the matter, sources said as per media reports. "Implementation of provisions of clause 3 of the said eco-sensitive zone notification is stayed forthwith, including amongst others all tourism and eco-tourism activities", the memorandum read. 

Earlier on Thursday, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren urged the Centre to take "appropriate decision" on one of its notifications. Soren tweeted, "As per applications received from followers of Jainism, have written a letter to Union Forest Minister Bhupender Yadav to take an appropriate decision on Centre's notification to maintain the sanctity of Sammed Shikhar in Parasnath. "

Previously, JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya while speaking with Outlook had said that the JMM government in Jharkhand was in solidarity with the Jain community and that the state government will not do anything at the holy Jain site in contradiction to Jain sentiments. He also pointed that the August 2019 notification was the brainchild of the then Raghubar Das led BJP government in the state and the central government.

Soren also said that the state had refrained from acting on the provisions in the provisions in the Centre's notification keeping Jain community sentiments in perspective. 

Digambar monk, Sri Pramansagar ji Maharaj welcomed the government's decision to halt the provisions in its 2019 notification and reinforcing ban on the selling of meat and liquor in the mountain area. "The government has also accepted our demand and given representation to 2 of our community member in the monitoring committee, which is an appreciable move."

Maharaj ji had earlier expressed his 2 cents on the government's notification, death of a 72-year-old monk in Rajasthan who went on fasting against the notice and the ongoing protests.

Located in the Parasnath Hills in Giridih district, Shri Sammed Shikharji , some 160 km from the state capital Ranchi, is a devout Jain site for both the Digambaras and Shwetambars sects and vital to the community history as 20 of the 24 Jain tirthankaras attained 'moksha' (salvation) in here.

The big move came after Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav met a delegation of the Jain community over the issue that has drawn everyone's attention. During the early day meeting, Yadav assured the Jainism followers of the government's commitment to maintain the sanctity of 'Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra' which is not just a holy place for the Jain community but for the entire country.

Fearing that the notification and increased tourist activities will disrupt the sanctity of their holy site, the Community Jain community has been demanding the government to denotify it's decision on Parasnath. 

Representatives of different Jain groups held a press conference to thank PM Modi for the decision which, they said, will ensure that the sanctity of their most sacred pilgrimage site is maintained. Followers of the faith have chosen various platforms to express their joy and satisfaction on the government decision.

The environment ministry said the Central government recognizes the sanctity of Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra and "significance for the Jain community as well as the nation at large; and reiterates its commitment towards maintaining the same".

"In this regard, the state government is directed to immediately take all stepsn ecessary to strictly enforce the provisions of clause 7.6.1 of the Management Plan of the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary which protects the whole Parasnath Hill; categorically prohibiting amongst others, activities such as the selling of liquor, drugs, and other intoxicants," the memo said.

The implementation of the management plan will prohibit loud music or use of loudspeakers; defiling sites of religious and cultural significance such as sacred monuments, lakes, rocks, caves, and shrines; damaging flora or fauna; causing environmental pollution; committing injurious acts to forests, water bodies, plants, animals, or disturbing the natural tranquillity of such sites; coming with pet animals; and unauthorised camping and trekking on the Parasnath Hills.