Yet another attempt by the Sangh Parivar to foment tensions by spreading false propaganda on Hindu temples in Kerala has been exposed.
The claim has been refuted by Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and activists, even as RSS workers tried to create tension at the temple.
On Thursday, RSS workers stopped the Malabar Devaswom Board (MDB) Executive Officer and the team of revenue officials who came to the temple to take it over on the basis of a High Court order.
The RSS workers created a tense atmosphere in the temple and its premises by holding the officials and even the women police officers hostage. The MDB officials returned without completing the proceedings.
The controversy has its origins in 2009, when a large section of devotees of the temple alleged that the RSS-led administration was involved in embezzling funds. The devotees demanded that the Malabar Devaswom Board, which manages a large number of temples in North Kerala, should take over the temple administration so that its finances are properly audited.
The dispute was taken to the court, and the court ruled that the temple should be taken over by the MDB. The MDB took over the temple, but the temple committee office-bearers refused to hand over the keys to the lockers and the donation box.
The temple committee office-bearers refused to hand over the keys of the lockers and the donation box, perhaps because they were afraid that the irregularities would be exposed.
The temple committee office-bearers went to court again, and the court issued a stay order on the takeover. Subsequently the High Court vacated the stay, allowing the MDB to take over the temple.
MDB officials led by Malabar Devaswom Executive Officer TC Biju and revenue officials led by the Tehsildar of Chavakkad reached the temple to complete the takeover proceedings on Thursday morning.
But a group of RSS workers created a ruckus in the temple when the officials arrived and tried to manhandle them.
The police had arrived at the temple premises earlier in civilian dress, based on information received that there would be attempt to block the entry of officials. RSS workers forcibly closed the temple tower entrance, which meant that devotees who came to the temple for rituals and so on were unable to enter. Even devotees who had come from distant places were not allowed to enter, which resulting in devotees protesting. It was only by 6 o’clock in the evening that the temple was opened for devotees.
Meanwhile BJP Kerala State President Kummanam Rajasekharan came out with the allegation that the government is taking over the temple for capturing its wealth.
At the same time, Sangh Parivar-affiliated social media handles started spreading the claim that the temple was being “attacked”.
The Sangh Parivar propaganda came in for severe criticism by activists, who pointed out that corruption in the temples can be reduced by bringing them under the Devaswom Boards, thereby bringing them under audit.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran came down heavily on Kummanam Rajasekharan's claim that the government is trying to capture temple wealth:
“The Kerala government has not initiated any new action related to the Parthasarathy temple.”, he wrote in a Facebook post . “The court told the MDB to take over the temple, so that the temple wealth would not be embezzled. The false propaganda that the government is taking temple revenue to the government treasury should be stopped. The revenue from the temples under the Devaswom Boards are used for the day-to-day expenses of the temples, to pay salaries to temple employees and for the development purposes of the temples.”
“Nobody will have any doubt regarding which is better – whether to allow individuals or dubious groups to misuse even the funds received as donations at temples, or whether to carry out day-to-day administration through Devaswom Boards, with proper, authentic auditing.”
Kadakampally also refuted Kummanam's allegation that only Hindu temples are being take over. "I believe Kummanam's statement is due to a misunderstanding. Many Christian churches and mosques have been shut down in Kerala due to isputes and tensions. We have been witness to the 100-year old Anchirakkal Jumaat mosque at Karipur, Kakkov Juma Masjid, Chamapparampu Juma Masjid, Thrikkunnath church, Mar Mikhail Orthodox Church at Mamalassery and several other places of worship closing down for such reasons.”
“Here what is being done is only the implementation of the High Court order that the temple, whose administration was in chaos due to irregularities, should be taken over by the MDB. Kummanamji should advise the trouble-makers to withdraw without creating tensions at the temple. There are statements by some others, oozing communal venom. They are not even worth responding to. But those calling for violence will have to face legal action.”, the Minister wrote.
Apart from fund embezzlement, temples with managing committees led by the RSS have been accused of being used by the Hindutva outfit as centres for arms training and ideological propaganda.