|Early Times Report|
Bhadarwah, Aug 26: A religiousgroup has demanded setting up of a board on the lines of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to manage the annual Machail Yatra.
The 43-day yatra commenced on July 25 and so far over 2.20 lakh pilgrims have visited the revered shrine and performed 'darshan' at Chandi Mata Dham in Machail.
The demand by Shri Sanatan Dharam Sabha (SSDS) came days after two groups involved in the annual yatra allegedly clashed at the temple to take over management of the shrine.
"We demand a high-level inquiry into the incident which has hurt the sentiments of the devotees and stress for creation of shrine board on the pattern of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board," president SSDS, Bhaderwah, Ved Kumar Kotwal told reporters here.
The Machail Yatra, started in 1981 by head priest Thakur Kulbir Singh, was managed by the Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha (SSSS) till 2013. But after reports of embezzlement of funds and some issues with other members surfaced, following which the main priest disassociated himself and formed Sarv Shakti Shri Chandi Mata Ji Mandir Chenote Trust Bhadarwah in 2013, while Randhir Singh Parihar alias Raju Guru of Kishtwar took control of the SSSS.
The rift between the two organisations over the control of annual pilgrimage widened over the last few years.
This year, the SSSS reportedly stopped the other group led by priest Deshveer Singh from placing the holy mace in the form of trident (trishul), which they had taken from Bhadarwah in the form of a procession as per tradition, at the temple.
"It is unfortunate that some unscrupulous elements for their vested interest created a scene there, as a result of which the yatra returned without 'Charri Mubarak' (holy mace) for the first time, which has badly hurt the sentiments of the devotees," a functionary said.
He said the series of events indicate that the whole episode was pre-planned to perhaps to hush-up the scandal.
"The Governor should immediately order creation of a shrine board to manage Machail Yatra to restore the sanctity of the pilgrimage," he added.
SSDS alleged that the local police and civil administration maintained a callous attitude despite being informed well in advance about the nefarious designs of the unscrupulous elements who had planned to create trouble during pilgrimage.