The historic prayers at the Martand Sun temple in J&K's Anantnag witnessed a large gathering of devotees on Saturday. J&K LG Manoj Sinha, too, participated in the Navgrah Ashtamangalam pooja' at the ancient temple. But the religious event has irked Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials, who claimed the gathering was in violation of rules.
Devotees thronged the premises to observe Shankara Jayanti (the birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya), which was the first time since the temple was declared a "site of national importance" by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
ASI officials have raised the issue with the UT administration, claiming that no permission was sought from the conservation body to conduct the prayers at ASI-protected Martand Sun temple.
"We have raised our concerns with the district administration. They have been sent a message that it is a violation of our rules. No permission was sought from us for the prayers. The LG did not hold the prayers inside the temple, but outside it. However, even that is a violation," an official of the ASI said on condition of anonymity.
Manoj Sinha, former BJP legislator Surinder Ambardar and prominent saints from different regions of the country were in attendance. Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Pandurang K Pole, Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar, and Anantnag DC Piyush Singla had also attended the pooja.
International Business Times reviewed the ASI rules which have been quoted in this context to say the pooja held at the Martand Sun temple was in violation. Here's what we found.
However, according to the Rule 7(1) of the 1959 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, meetings, receptions, parties, entertainment or conferences could not be held at a protected monument without permission in writing from the central government. Rule 7(2) says this should not apply to any event held "in pursuance of a recognised religious usage or custom".
Customary practices are hence allowed in ASI protected temples as per the law. ASI's quoted rule is not applicable in this case and argument is factually misleading.