The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has stopped all activities at the Parasnath Hills shrine in Jharkhand due to protests from the Jain community over plans to turn it into an eco-tourism destination.
On January 5, the Indian government issued a memorandum to protect the Wildlife Sanctuary and Eco-Sensitive Zone surrounding the Sammed Shikharji shrine in Jharkhand. This decision followed a meeting between a government minister and representatives of the Jain community to address the issue and find a resolution. The minister stated that the shrine is a sacred place for the Jain community and the entire country, and the government is committed to maintaining its sanctity.
Union Minister Bhupender Yadav tweeted that the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is committed to protecting the rights of the Jain community over their religious sites, including the Sammed Shikharji shrine. The government has directed the Jharkhand government to enforce the Management Plan of the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary, which includes restrictions on activities such as the sale and use of intoxicants, loud music, damage to the environment, harm to animals and plants, unauthorized camping, and trekking on the Parasnath Hill.
The Ministry has also directed the Jharkhand government to strictly implement the ban on the sale and consumption of liquor and non-vegetarian food items on the Parasnath Hill as outlined in the aforementioned office memorandum.
The government has established a committee to monitor the provisions of the Eco Sensitive Zone notification related to the Sammed Shikharji shrine in Jharkhand. The committee will be responsible for enforcing the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 and will include two members from the Jain community and one member from the local Tribal community as permanent invitees to ensure appropriate representation from key stakeholders. This committee will be responsible for effectively monitoring the provisions of the notification.
As part of a tourism policy implemented in July 2022, the government of Jharkhand, led by Hemant Soren, decided to promote tourism at the Parasnath Peak shrine. The shrine is a popular destination for Jains from around the world, who come to the state to undertake a 27 km trek to the summit, which contains the salvation shrines of 20 Tirthankaras.
The order comes as a victory for the Jain community, who have been protesting in several cities across the country, demanding that the shrine not be turned into a tourist destination. They called for a one-day strike on December 21, 2022, and held a protest on January 1, 2023. The protests took place in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, and Surat.