Sammed Shikharji: Centre stops all tourism activities at holy Jain site after protests

Following intense protests by the Jain community, the Centre on Thursday stayed all tourism activities at the Parasnath Hill in Jharkhand, where their religious site, Sammed Shikharji, is located. 

The ministry of environment issued an office memorandum directing the state government to strictly enforce a ban on the sale and consumption of liquor and non-vegetarian food at the hill. Sammed Shikharji in Giridih district is one of the holiest sites for Jains. The community has been staging massive protests in cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Delhi and Bhopal against the decision to promote tourism there. 

In 2019, the Union ministry had notified an eco-sensitive zone around the Parasnath sanctuary and approved eco-tourism activities proposed the state government. The Centre’s intervention came after Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav met a delegation of the community earlier in the day. He assured them that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to preserving and protecting the rights of the Jain community over all their religious sites.”

Later, the ministry instructed Jharkhand to prohibit damage to flora or fauna; coming with pets; playing loud music; defiling sites of religious and cultural significance like sacred monuments, lakes, rocks, caves, and shrines; sale of intoxicants; and unauthorized camping. It also directed setting up a monitoring panel including two Jain members.

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