Ban on liquor, meat near religious places

Sumer Khajuria
Maharaja Partap Singh in respecting the sentiments of the disciples of holy Devika in the year 1911 A.D had imposed complete ban on sale and consumption of both meat and liquor, by virtue of notification published in Govt. Gazette dated 11th Poh, 1968 incorporated in the statue book in English Translation dated 28th Assuj, 1968, the content of which read as “We agree with the opinion expressed by the Chief Minister, that Purmandal and Uttarbehni are the famous and sacred shrines of the Hindus. Sale of meat and liquor in these places has been prohibited from the time of late his Highness Maharaja Sahib Bahadur of revered memory. In conformity with the old practice, it is here by ordered that sale of meat and liquor in both these places is prohibited in future also and the same may be notified.” Like wise Maharaja Hari Singh in the year 1932 A.D having regard to the Sanctity and reverence of Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi had imposed total ban on sale of meat and liquour both at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji Katra during the pilgrimage period assessed at the particular point of that period being three months between October to December each year. The notification number 19 is read as “After consideration of the case in Council , His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur , vide Prime Minister’s endorsement No. G.B. 211, dated 2nd January, 1933, has been pleased to command that the sale of meat and liquors at the Vaishno Devi Shrine near Katra be prohibited entirely and in the town of Katra for three months during the pilgrimage entirely and in the town for three months during the pilgrimage i.e approximately from October to December.”
Since the year 1932 A.D the experienced behavior of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage has drastically been changed there by attracting floating population of one crore a year involving the entire period round the year apart from the pilgrimage routes formation with base camp Katra via Ban Ganga Charan Paduka old route and via routes newly created down stream of Ban Ganga. This apart the Sanctum Sanctorum of most revered places in the vicinity of Mata Vaishno Devi cave called Shiv Khori near Pouni have also emerged as place of pilgrimages attracting millions of pilgrims round the year. The prime destinations of holy Devika and Sudh Maha Dev including its scattered places of Panch Koshi have also emerged as the places of pilgrimages round the year and its waters are being subjected to severe pollution by the sale and consumption of both meat and liquor thereby hurting the sentiments of visiting Hindu Community. The fishing in the Holy river Tawi believed to be under Hindu religion an abode of Behd Devita is also considered to be a great sin. The pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Shrine carried for two months durations in a year (approximately July-August) is an another place revered to its high esteem by the pilgrims, moving via Sonamarg-Baltal as well as Pahalgam numbering about 5 lakh but their sentiments are seriously hurt in the face of sale and consumption of non vegetarian commodities and liquor at the sanctum sanctorum of the Ice lingam shrine Shesh Nag , Panchtarni apart from the pilgrimage of Machail Mata in Kashmir District in Paddar area.
Although the local administration of Katra being fully convinced with the dire need of prohibition of sale and consumption of both meat and liquor round the year since the tenure of able Police officer Sewa Singh, the menace of short coming is met by temporary notification at local level as an adhoc, stop gap arrangement being bound by their administrative capacity but the State Govt. being the authority to make laws or issuance of appropriate proclamations or notifications has failed to carry its obligations.
Presently the menace of liquor has further enlarged by means of other intoxicants being unabatedly being used in the present scenario, the sale and consumption also needs to the totally prohibited with modification of earlier rule of procedure besides the due considerations deserves to be given to the inabated pollution by sale of meat and other non vegetable communities in the vicinities of holy Devika at Udhampur and ingress of such waste in the holy Devika. Pertinently the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir is himself the Head of the Shrine Boards of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi , Shri Amarnath, Shri Sukrala Devi, Shiv Khori Shrine besides the places of Sudh Mahadevi, Mantalai, Machail Mahadev are and their sanctity is well within his knowledge and direct control when the State is in President’s rule and bound to come further by transformation into Union Territory effecting from 31, October 2019, under the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019. The Govt. had already having regard to the heavy influx of pilgrims of Sukrala Devi Ji and Shri Mata Bala Sundari ji has declared its these places of worship and their surrounding to be administered by “The Jammu and Kashmir Shri Mata Sukrala Devi Ji and Shri Mata Bala Sundari Shrine Act, 2013” [Act No. III of 2013] , In case of Shri Amarnath Shrine under “The Jammu and Kashmir Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Act, 2000” [Act No. XVIII of 2000], and in case of Shri Shiv Khori shrine also under “The Jammu and Kashmir Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Act, 2008” [Act No. IV of 2008]. In all such cases the Governor of J&K State is himself the head of such Shrines boards.


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