GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - Expressing serious concern and resentment over the spurt in theft in temples and devalayas across Assam, the Sadou Asam Devalaya Sangha today said that the State government had completely failed to accord protection to the shrines and that it had been left with no option but to take to the streets demanding positive action by the authorities.
A meeting of the Sangha, featuring representatives from 108 devalayas held at the Ugratara Devalaya campus, today unequivocally condemned the State government over its failure to bring to book any of the culprits in the recent theft cases, including the one that took place at the Ugratara shrine two weeks back.
�The situation is shocking to say the least. There has been a spurt in theft of shrine properties across the State. These properties have both heritage and monetary value. The home department of the State government has completely failed in discharging its responsibilities. The Ugratara temple is situated barely 100 metres from the Latasil Police Station. Worse, the police are totally clueless in recovering the stolen idols and other items even after confessions by those arrested,� Kailash Sarma, principal secretary of the Sangha, told The Assam Tribune.
Today�s meeting, which was presided over by Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya, president of the Sangha, was attended by Kabindra Prasad Sarma (Doloi of Kamakhya Devalaya), Ranjit Mishra (Doloi of Bilweswar Devalaya), Bhupendra Narayan Sarma (Doloi of Mangalchandi Devalaya), Parameswar Sarma (Doloi of Ugratara Devalaya), Manoj Kumar Sarma (Doloi of Gopeswar) and Badan Chandra Deka (Doloi of Madan-Kamdeva Devalaya).
The meeting also resolved to submit a memorandum to the Governor and the Chief Minister after taking out a protest march by next week.
�It will be the first time in the State�s history that temple managements are taking to the street to voice their grievances. This is both sad and shocking,� Sarma said.
By another resolution, the meeting also demanded that the State government either gave back to the devalayas their land acquired under the Religious and Charitable Institutions Act, 1967 or gave them the value of the land in present market rate.
�These shrines had lakhs of bighas of land which were acquired by the State government under the Act. We used to earn good revenue from the land and this helped us manage our shrines properly. Now we are demanding that the government either return us the land or give back the land value at the present market rate,� Sarma added.
The past few months have witnessed a spurt in theft in shrines across the State which include Ugratara, Siddheswar, Gupteswar, Tilinga temples, and several more.