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Strong opposition to possible governmentalization in Sant Balumama Devasthan!

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Unmesh Gujarathi


The Board of Trustees of Sant Balumama Devasthan at Admapur in Kolhapur district, a place of pilgrimage for lakhs of devotees, has been dissolved citing corruption. There are currently administrators appointed to manage the devasthan operations. The trustees who have committed corruption in this matter must be punished; but what is the purpose of the conspiracy of governmentalizing the temple on the pretext of this case? Several temples in the state including Shri Vitthal Mandir of Pandharpur, Shri Tuljabhavani Mandir, Shri Mahalakshmi Mandir of Kolhapur, Shri Siddhivinayak Mandir of Mumbai and Shri Saibaba Sansthan of Shirdi have been governmentalizated and scams involving land, jewels and many other things have been exposed in the government committees in these temples.

Giving the temple authority in the hands of government officials who are involved in corruption in government offices is like giving ‘Keys to the vault in the hands of a thief’. Therefore, we strongly oppose the governmentalization of the temple. ‘Sadguru Balumama Devasthan Sanrakshan kruti Samiti’ and ‘Maharashtra Mandir Mahasangh’ have organized ‘Sant Balumama Devasthan Sanrakshan Andolan’ on 17th January 2024, demanding action against the former trustees who are found guilty and handover of the devasthan administration to honest and faithful devotees. This movement will start at Kranti Jyoti Chowk, Gargoti, Kolhapur at 10:00 a.m. This information was given by the state coordinator of ‘Maharashtra Mandir Mahasangh’ Sunil Ghanwat. He was speaking at a press conference held at the ‘Press Club’ in Kolhapur.

On this occasion the President of ‘Balumama Halsiddhanath Sevakari Sanstha’ Shri. Nikhil Mohite, District President of ‘Hindu Ekta Andolan’ Shri. Deepak Desai, Founder of ‘Shivshahi Foundation’ Shri. Sunil Samant and coordinator of ‘Sadguru Balumama Devasthan Sanrakshan kruti Samiti’ Shri. Babasaheb Bhopale were present.

Sunil Ghanwat further said, “When the Supreme Court gave a clear order in the case of Nataraja Temple in Tamil Nadu in the year 2014 that ‘the government should hand over the temples to the devotees’, why is the state government again governmentalizing the temples? Not a single mosque or church has been governmentalized in the country whereas hundreds of temples have. This is religious discrimination against Hindus. Which principle of secularism does this fit in? It is a paradox that the government is contracting, privatizing many government systems and governmentalizing temples.

The investigation into the scams in various government-run temples in the state is going on. Similarly, in the year 2018, Shri Shani Mandir at Shanishinganapur was taken over by the government as the trustees were not managing it properly; but after this, there has been no improvement in the situation there and the difficulties of the devotees have increased. In all the temples which have been taken over by the government till date, there is more corruption than before, negligence of religious rituals and inconvenience to the devotees.“

On this occasion, Babasaheb Bhopale said, “After receiving complaints to the Charity Commissioner regarding the management of Sant Balumama Devasthan, doubts are being expressed about the speed with which the Charity Commissioner’s office took further steps. There is a strong doubt behind the exact purpose of the charity office’s expedited investigations, document verifications and multiple visits to Adamapur against its usual way of working at a snail’s pace. In the temple where there is an administrator today, it will not take long for the government-sanctioned temple committee to take over tomorrow; but we strongly oppose this governmentalization. Therefore, we demand that action should be taken against the corrupt trustees of the temple and those found guilty should be tried and finally, the devasthan administration be handed over to the honest devotees.”

Deepak Desai said, “6 years have passed since the C.I.D. investigation into the mega scam of the ‘Pashchim Maharashtra Devasthan Vyavsthapan Samiti’, which has more than 3,000 temples, but the report is yet to come out. Investigation is still pending on the amount of the land that these temples own along with claiming back the amount of land owned by other people. Such inquiries are worthless and a waste of time if the culprits are not punished. This is just deceiving the devotees and the public.”

Nikhil Mohite said, ” Why are the perpetrators still not punished despite the irregularities and corruption in Balumama Devasthan in Adamapur coming to light? Why are many of these corrupt practices not being made public? Sant Balumama belongs to the devotees who have faith in him and this devasthan should remain in the possession of the devotees. However, on behalf of the ‘Balumama Halsiddhanath Sevakari Sanstha’, we fully support this agitation and appeal to other devotees to participate in the movement.”

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