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Mehbooba slams J&K L-G over ‘puja’ at ASI-protected Martand Temple in Kashmir

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha during his visit to the Martand sun temple in Anantnag.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha during his visit to the Martand sun temple in Anantnag. | Photo Credit: PTI

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is not a mahant (chief priest) or pujari but a constitutional head of the Union Territory (UT), while criticising the L-G’s recent move to hold puja at a historic 8th century temple in south Kashmir on Sunday allegedly in violation of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) rules .

“Wherever he goes he (the L-G) starts puja. He is neither a mahant nor a pujari. He is the constitutional head of the State but breaks the law himself. He performs puja at an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected site where such activities are prohibited,” Ms. Mufti said.

She said J&K has a long secular tradition and people, whether Muslims, Hindus or Christians, have lived together for ages. “There are places where a mosque is next to a gurdwara or a temple. This is our heritage,” she added.

She asked the L-G to focus on roads, electricity and development. “Hundreds of local people are behind bars on petty charges (in Kashmir) but the constitutional head of the state violates the law openly,” she said.

Ms. Mufti was referring to the recent Navgrah Ashtamangala ‘puja’ held at the Martand sun temple in Mattan, Anantnag. The puja was chaired by Mr. Sinha in the presence of saints, members of the Kashmiri Pandit community and local residents.

According to ASI officials no permission was sought by the L-G administration to perform puja at the protected site.

According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, if a monument is not being used for any worship at the time of taking over by ASI, it cannot allow worship of any kind there. The Martand temple did not have a practice of any organised prayers or festivals in the past, according to local residents.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 11:15:24 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mehbooba-slams-jk-l-g-over-puja-at-asi-protected-martand-temple-in-kashmir/article65401316.ece