Jharkhand CM Warns BJP Against Playing ‘Divisive’ Politics Over Parasnath Hills

The Jain community is protesting against the Jharkhand government's decision to turn the hill, which it considers among its holiest places, into a tourist destination, while  

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of playing  "divisive”  politics over Parasnath hills or ‘Marang Buru’. 

Never before had the state witnessed such a controversy over a religious place, the chief minister claimed.

The Jain community is protesting against the Jharkhand government's decision to turn the hill, which it considers among its holiest places, into a tourist destination, while  

the tribals consider Parasnath Hill as the holiest 'Jeherthan' (place of worship).

While the Centre stayed the Jharkhand government’s move to promote tourism at the Parasnath hills after protests by people of the Jain community, several tribal organisations have already threatened of a nationwide stir if 'Marang Buru" is not freed from the alleged “clutches” of the Jain community. 

“Politics over a religious place will not be tolerated," Soren said while addressing a rally at Giridih. 

Jains across the country have been demanding the scrapping of a 2019 Jharkhand government notification designating Parasnath hills as a tourist place, fearing this would lead to an influx of travellers who may consume non-vegetarian food and liquor at their holy site.

Suspecting a “hidden agenda" of the Centre and the saffron party behind the Parasnath controversy that erupted last month, the chief minister assured the tribal community that ‘Marang Buru’ (the supreme power or deity) would continue to remain there.

Soren was addressing a rally at Giridih during the second phase of ‘Khatiyani Johar Yatra’, an outreach programme to mark three years of the JMM-led government in the state.   

"Divisive politics is being played...They are trying to create a divide among  Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and backwards ...Now they are sowing seeds of poison over Parasnath. Never before such a controversy had erupted between Jains and tribals...they were worshipping there peacefully," Soren said. 

The current agitation by the tribals is led by the Santhal tribe which has a sizeable population in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and West Bengal. 

People of the Santhal tribe are nature worshippers. The chief minister cautioned the police as well as central forces like CRPF to refrain from targeting 'Adivasi Sanskriti and Parampara’ (tribal culture and tradition). 

There had been reports that they were seizing bows and arrows from the people of the community, the chief minister said. 

" Bows and arrows are part of our existence. Do not play with Adivasi sentiments, else it cannot be controlled. Take rice, dal and clothes during raids but do not touch bows and arrows as these are part of tribal culture, identity and tradition.

“Adivasis are being driven out of jungles in the name of naxalites, eco-sensitive zone, mining and forestation," the chief minister claimed.  

Soren also accused the Centre of " unleashing" central bodies like the Enforcement Directorate and CBI for "destabilising" a democratically elected government since it was "afraid" of the development work undertaken in Jharkhand.  

He also said that whenever the state raised the issue of Rs 1.36 lakh crore dues to the state from Coal India, action by central agencies resumed on “some pretext”.

Accusing the BJP-led Central government of 'exploiting' Jharkhand for the past several years, Soren hit out at the Centre for allegedly making it the “most backward state” while providing all help to  Gujarat and Maharashtra to develop.

-With PTI Input