The group of Jain monks, who had been demanding that Palitana be declared a “himsa mukt nagari(town free from violence), had announced to hold a “human flesh donation” programme on Tuesday to press for their demand. However, they backed off after the government denied them permission to hold any such event, police said on Monday.
Tuesday will mark the completion of a month since the monks had gone on a fast-unto-death protest over the issue. Palitana Taluka Jiv Raksha tatha Vikhas Abhiyan, an organisation led by followers of Jain monk Virag Sagar Maharaj of Jambu Dwip, had written to the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Palitana on Thursday. In the letter, the organisation informed the authorities that they would organise a human flesh donation programme on July 22 to press for their demand of making Palitana himsa-mukt declaring the entire town a vegetarian-only zone. On receiving the letter, however, the authorities swung into action, with Palitana SDM Ramesh Katara convening a meeting of Jain monks on Friday.
“We made it clear to the Maharaj that the government cannot allow any such programme to be held. We assured them that the government is working on their demand within provisions of law,” Katara said. Police said the Maharaj has agreed to cancel the event. “After it was made clear that permission cannot be given for such a programme, the Maharaj agreed to call it off,” DSP of Palitana Jashu Desai said.
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Incidentally, it was exactly a month ago on June 22 that Maharaj and around 200 other Jain monks started their fast-unto-death, demanding declaration of the entire area of Palitana a vegetarian-only town.
Minister of State for Cottage Industries Tarachand Chheda had convinced the monks to break their fast on June 25 by assuring them of the state government’s keenness to reach an amicable solution.
Sale, storage or transportation of meat within 250-metre diameter on the either side of 2.5 km Taleti Raod in Palitana is prohibited by a state government notification. However, the monks have been demanding that this notification be extended to the entire Palitana town, located on the foothills of Shetrunjay, the holiest of places for the Jain community.
The town also has a sizeable Muslim population, and the community had opposed the move of declaring the area a vegetarian-only zone. Accordingly, they had also submitted a memorandum to the SDM on July 11 and also observed a bandh on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Palitana municipality, which is BJP-ruled, had issued a public appeal, stating that the proposed programme could disturb the public peace and called on the organisers to cancel it. Despite repeated attempts by this paper, the Mahraj could not be reached for comment.