[World] Jharkhand: India bans tourism at holy Jain site after protests

BBC News world 

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There have been countrywide protests against the decision

The Indian government has banned tourism activities at an important pilgrimage site for the Jain community.

Sammed Shikharji is located in an environmentally sensitive area atop Jharkhand state’s highest mountain.

The government has asked the state to ban activities that “defile the site”, like consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food.

The Jain community is a religious minority comprising around 4.5 million believers.

Devout Jains follow the tenets of their religion under the spiritual guidance of monks. These include detailed prescriptions for daily life, especially what to eat, what not to eat and when to eat.

The community fears that tourism to the pilgrimage site in Jharkhand will harm the sanctity of the area.

Members have been protesting against the state government’s move to turn the site into a tourist spot for some weeks.

In 2019, the environment ministry had approved tourism activities at Parasnath Hill – where the site is located – following the state government’s proposal.

On Thursday, it sent a letter to the state government stating that the site was important not just for the community but the entire nation.

It asked the state to immediately stop all “tourism and eco-tourism” activities at the site and to enforce all rules applicable to eco-sensitive zones.

This includes banning “loud music, the sale and consumption of intoxicants, defiling sites of religious and cultural significance” and activities that can harm the ecology of the area.

Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav tweeted that the federal government was committed to “preserving and protecting the rights of the Jain community over all their religious sites, including Sammed Shikhar”.

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