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Why hundreds of members of Jain community have hit the road

Jains' protests: This is perhaps, the first time members of the Jain community in huge numbers took to the streets to protest against the government for their demands.

by News Desk
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Jains protests: Hundreds of members of the Jain community have been taking out rallies and foot march in several cities including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Ranchi in the last couple of days. Jains- a community that firmly follow non-violence and usually distance themselves from controversies have perhaps first time in decades came forward to hold protests.

What has upset Jains

Jharkhand government’s decision to declare ‘sacred’ Shri Sammed Shikharji a tourist place and incidents of allegedly desecrating the sacred Shetrunjaya Hills in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district have triggered anger among lakhs of people belonging to the Jain community.

Protest in Ahmedabad

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Hundreds of Jain protester in Ahmedabad held protest on Sunday, seeking action against anti-social elements allegedly desecrating the sacred Shetrunjaya Hills in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district. Led by religious heads of the community, hundreds took part in the rally and walked for 3 km, demanding action against illegal mining activities, liquor dens and encroachment of government land on the hills.

Situated on the banks of Shetrunji river around 164 feet above sea level, Shetrunjaya Hills near Palitana city are home to 865 Jain temples and is a holy place for Shwetambara Jains.

Members of the community have held more than 85 rallies in different parts of the state ever since the “charan paduka” of a Jain saint was vandalised at a temple on the hills on November 26 last year, the secretary of a Jain trust in Ahmedabad said. The community also handed over a memorandum with a list of demands at the district collector’s office, he said.

All the demands are related to illegal activities and the state government should not find it hard to tackle them, said Pranav Shah, secretary of Samagra Jain Swetambar Murtipujak Tapagachh Shree Mahasangh of Ahmedabad city.

The community is demanding action against illegal mining on the hills that is desecrating the sanctity of the region and has flagged the issue of illegal construction, he said.Hand carts and shops along the roads should also be removed and hooch dens that have cropped up in the area need to be shut, Shah said.

Massive protests in Mumbai, Delhi

Hundreds of members of the Jain community took out rallies in Delhi and Mumbai on Sunday. On Wednesday numbers of protesters held march against the government in Mumbai.

Jain monk protesting dies in Jaipur

A 72-year-old Jain monk who was on a fast against the Jharkhand government’s decision died Tuesday in Jaipur, according to a community leader. Police said after participating in a peace march in Jaipur against the decision, Sugyeysagar Maharaj sat on the fast at Sanghiji temple in Sanganer area of the city. The priest was a native of a village in Banswara district of Rajasthan.

National Commission for Minorities to hold hearing on January 17

The National Commission for Minorities will hold a hearing on January 17 and has summoned the Union environment secretary and Jharkhand chief secretary after taking cognisance of representations made by Jain community opposing a move to turn their religious site into an eco-tourism hub.

In a statement, the Commission said it has received various representations from the Jain community regarding the conversion of Jain pilgrimage site Shri Sammed Shikharji Hill into an eco-tourism hub by the Jharkhand government and the central dispensation.

“This decision has hurt the religious sentiments of the Jain community all over India. The representations submitted by the community also raise the issue of encroachment and other problems at Shri Sammed Shikharji. The Commission has received requests from Jains all over the country for declaring Shri Sammed Shikharji a holy place. The National Commission for Minorities has already requested the Government of Jharkhand to consider the demand of Jain community members,” it said. It said a hearing has been fixed for January 17 to resolve the issue.

Gujarat government to form task force

The Gujarat government will form a task force to deal with the grievances of the Jain community regarding alleged illegal activities in the Shetrunjaya Hills area in Bhavnagar district, Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi said on Tuesday. The Jain community has been staging protests in the state after the ancient `Charan Paduka’ at a temple at Rohishala in Shetrunjaya Hills was vandalised on November 26, and CCTV cameras at the site were damaged on December 16.

“The Chief Minister (Bhupendra Patel) took a decision to form a task force which will take action after thoroughly studying the issues,” Sanghavi told reporters in Surat.

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