Strange but true that Kedarnath, which has just returned after devastation due to disaster 2013, again struck under the clutches of organised syndicate and it has ascertained by Prime Minister Office (PMO). A person, who could not grease the palm of priests, had to stay for long hour in queue so he lodged a complaint in PMO against the person and also made accountable to the police who did not act against his complaint. Taking cognizance on it PMO has sent the complaint to the Uttarakhand government and state government has referred the case to the secretary concerned.
Ajay Dwivedi, a resident of Chhindwada in Madhya Pradesh, along with his parents, had suffered a lot during their pilgrimage to the shrine. While they were standing in the queue, waiting for their turns for the darshan, local Panchayat members and priests approached him and asked him to shell out Rs 2100 per head to get the facility of VIP darshan. He had seen others falling in line, though he himself could not have availed the VIP darshan facility as the amount required for it was beyond his means. As Ajay and his elderly parents had continued to suffer their predicament they had seen some pilgrims venting anger over the wrong practice and approached the panchayat members for justice. However, the panchayat members had abused them hard for their failure to avail the VIP darshan facility in lieu of the required sums. The complaint further recounted their plight if it rained and snowed heavily. The local panchayat members charge each Rs 2100 for being provided with shelter. Those who cannot pay the sum are forced to face the wrath of nature. The tragic state of things had capped as two elderly pilgrims had died while being left to the mercy of nature on May 14, 2017 after it started snowing heavily during the afternoon hours. Despite the state government claiming to have made all arrangements for the comforts of the pilgrims, there is hardly any oxygen cylinder for the elderly pilgrims. The local administration treats the pilgrims with contempt, doing nothing to address the problems they face during the pilgrimage.
The pilgrim who sent the letter to PMO said that if this trend is allowed to continue it would deal a deadly blow to the state government’s stress on transforming the economy of the hill areas through ensuring more and more footfalls of the pilgrims to the fabled shrines of the state. He made a fervent appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come down heavily on the malpractice and its perpetrators to save the sanctity of the revered shrines and also the Santana Dharma which are at stake with the greedy out to fleece the pilgrims who take immense pains to undertake the pilgrimage.