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Day after LG Manoj Sinha prays at protected J&K temple, ASI expresses concern

The ASI, which is the custodian of the protected monument, “deemed the incident as a violation of its rules” in its communication to the administration but has not lodged a formal complaint, the sources said.

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: May 10, 2022 7:05:16 am
L-G Manoj Sinha at the site

A DAY after Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha participated in prayers at the ruins of the eighth-century Martand Sun temple at Mattan in Anantnag, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday “expressed concern to the district administration” over the event, sources told The Indian Express.

The ASI, which is the custodian of the protected monument, “deemed the incident as a violation of its rules” in its communication to the administration but has not lodged a formal complaint, the sources said.

The agency, which functions under the Ministry of Culture, has conveyed that no prior permission was sought from them to conduct a religious ceremony at the complex, and asked the administration to ensure that such a violation is not repeated.

According to a senior ASI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, prayers are allowed at ASI-protected sites only if they were “functioning places of worship” when the agency took charge.

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Anantnag Deputy Commissioner Piyush Singla did not respond to calls and text messages from The Indian Express seeking comment.

This is the second religious ceremony to be held at the temple, which is a “site of national importance”, over the past few days.

The Sunday Express first reported that over 100 Hindu pilgrims had held prayers for a few hours on Friday morning in the ruins. And that the pilgrims, guarded by security personnel provided by the district administration, sat on a stone platform amid the ruins of the ancient temple, reciting from Hindu scriptures and religious texts.

The leader of the contingent, Maharaj Rudranath Anhad Mahakal, had told this newspaper that he emailed district authorities about his plan to hold prayers at the temple, but got no response.

After the prayers on Sunday, L-G Sinha had termed the “Navgrah Ashtamangalam Pooja” as “truly a divine experience in a godly ambience”, and reiterated his commitment to protecting and developing ancient sites of cultural and spiritual significance.

On Monday, senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari tweeted: “Happy to see members of Kashmiri Pandit Community offering prayers at Martand Sun Temple ruins in Anantnag -Jammu & Kashmir. Navagraha ashtamangalam pooja sends out a powerful message of Indian syncretism & Pluralism given their trials & tribulations circa 1990.”

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