JAMMU/ SAMBA, Jan 18: Protesting Dharmarth Trust employees today took out a massive rally here seeking intervention of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha in constitution of Board for all the temples under Dharmarth Trust on the pattern of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
Holding banners and placards in their hands, the employees gathered at Shri Ranbireshwar Temple and staged a strong demonstration from where they took out massive rally towards Shri Maharaja Hari Singh statue at Tawi Bridge.
As the protest entered the 49th day and chain hunger strike at 22nd day, hundreds of employees, including women and children, continued their ‘dharna’ at Shri Ranbireshwar Temple and raised slogans against the J&K Government and Dharmarth Trust management.
MS Katoch from JPPF, Brij Mehra from Jammu Pragati Manch and Vijay Kumar from Kranti Dal also addressed the gathering. Employees are demanding Shrine Board and CBI enquiry of land scandals by taking under hand deal by the persons having control on Dharmarth Trust for the last 60 years.
Various organisations namely JPPF, Kranti Dal, Shri Raghunath Mandir Sewa Samiti extended full support to Dharmarth Trust employees and also participated in the rally.
The persons who sat on hunger strike today included Sonali, Pt Raj Pal, Pt Jagdish Raj, Pt Karun Goswami, Th Raghubir Singh, Dev Raj, Om Prakash, Darshan, Balwant, Sheetal and Bimla Devi.
Meanwhile, over 30 Dharmarth Trust employees from Purmandal and Utterbehni are on protest dharna for the last 49 days. They are sitting on indefinite dharna in the Temple premises at Utterbehni at the bank of river Devak in district Samba.
These protesting employees including temple priests and Sewadars/ guards/ Safai workers told the ‘Excelsior’ that they are getting a meager pay ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 8000 per month. Even some of the employees who are working for the last over 25-30 years, have not crossed Rs 8000 salary.
They pointed out that entire donation money is taken away by the Managing Trustees/ staff every month. Besides this, the revenue from the large forest area in Purmandal and Utterbehni is also taken away by them. But the staff is deprived of the facilities. Guards used to get uniform, shoes, torches etc but since 1990, this facility has also been stopped. Even funds for `Puja Samagri’ in temples have been stopped. No maintenance work has been initiated on the temples by the Management since long, they alleged.
Pawan Kumar, Vinod Kumar Sharma, Parshotam Kumar, Dwarika Nath, Sunil Singh, Bittu Ram and others demanded that their salary be hiked and Dharmarth Trust should be brought under Shrine Board.