The Jain community across India is observing a silent march protesting the Jharkhand government’s move to declare the Shri Sammed Shikharji, the holy place for the community, in Giridih District as a tourist place.
The holy place located on Parasnath Hills, which is the highest mountain in Jharkhand state, is important for both Digambara and Svetambara sects as 20 out of 24 Jain Tirthankaras along with monks attained moksha in the place.
Protests have been observed across Mysuru, Karnataka and Jharkhand and a letter campaign would also be launched, written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi where the community would urge the top leader to not convert the place into a tourism spot.
Protest in Mysuru
The Jain community of Mysuru expressed disappointment over the Jharkhand government’s recent decision.
On December 18, while speaking to reporters, Sri Digambar Jain Samaj secretary MR Anil Kumar said, “It is a holy place for the community. But ironically, the Jharkhand Government has declared it a tourist place. This will allow the tourists to visit the holy place for fun and entertainment and will disturb the holiness of the place. We appeal to the Government to withdraw its decision immediately and to ensure that the environment of the holy place is not disturbed by tourists.”
Hundreds of people from the community in Mysuru participated in the silent and peaceful protest march from Gandhi Square to DC Office passing through Ashoka Road, Irwin Road and JLB Road to submit a memorandum to Jharkhand Government.
Protest in other parts of Karnataka
On Tuesday, members of the Jain community in Dakshin Kannada district observed a silent protest march from Thousand pillar basadi to Swarajya maidan in Moodbidri.
Former minister K Abhayachandra Jain told reporters that a silent march would be held under the banner of ‘Sammed Shikharjbachao'.
Last Friday, members of the Jain community staged a protest at Saidapur in Yadgir district and observed a silent march protesting the move by the Jharkhand government.
The former Zilla Panchayat Vice-President Shrenik Kumar Dokha, who led the protest march, said that converting the place to a tourist spot will disturb the peace and calm of the place disrupting the ‘holiness’ of it.
Later, the protestors submitted a memorandum addressed to the President and the Prime Minister, to the local authorities.
Protest in Bhopal
Last week, members of the Jain community took out a silent procession in Rajwada to protest against declaring Sammed Shikharji in Jharkhand, as a tourist destination.
Members of the Jain community marched in Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Narmadapuram, Gwalior, Sagar and Khandwa as part of the nationwide 'Save Shikharji' campaign.
Earlier in December, a similar protest called by the World Jain Organisation happened in Bhopal.
President of Digambar Jain Samaj Narendra Ved, and spokesperson Manish Ajmera informed that hundreds of Jains from both Digambar and Shwetambar sects took part in the procession which started from Rajwada and culminated at Regal Crossing in front of the Gandhi statue. The women taking part in the procession were wearing saffron clothes while the men were in white attire.
The protest saw the participation of the heads of various Jain organisations and social groups like Bharat Modi, Narendra Ved, Sanjay Patodi, Ashok Mandlik, the head of World Jain Association JK Jain, Swapnil Jain, Anil Banjal, and Nirmal Patodi.
Hearing on the matter
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has written to the Chief Secretary, the Jharkhand government about denotifying Parasnath Parvatraj Giridih (Jharkhand) as an eco-tourism centre and declaring the same as a holy place and has decided to hold a hearing on January 17, 2023 at 3 pm.
Earlier on November 28, a letter has been written to the Chief Secretary Government of Jharkhand to consider the request and declare the Sammed Shikharji as a holy place only as this is regarded as the highest place of pilgrimage of the Jain religion.
However, the community alleges that no action has been taken so far.