Several social media users have claimed that the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan has “banned” pooja during Navratri in the Hinglaj Mata temple of Barmer. Some Twitter users mocked the Congress party, stating that they have done something that even Pakistan did not do at its Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan.
BJP MP Tarun Vijay tweeted out a letter on September 24th, alleging that “Rajasthan’s Cong govt bans all dharmic activities in India’s largest Hinglaj Mata temple Barmer under a fake pretext. See police order. What Baweja and Shehbaz didnt do to Balochistan Hinglaj mata mandir Gehlot did in Rajasthan. Protest as much as you can.”
A closer look at the letter tweeted by BJP MP Tarun Vijay shows that it was issued by local police and states that they have been made aware of an ongoing factionalism between two groups belonging to the Khatri community in the area. Addressed to the head of the Hinglaj Shakti Peeth, it says that potential disputes during the Navratri programmes or any other dharmic (religious) programs can “disrupt the law and order situation” in the area.
It goes on to say that “during navrati or any other days- till the reason for dispute between the factions is resolved ”, religious programmes should not be conducted. The same letter further says in case any such programs are to be held, prior permission has to be sought from the “devasthan vibhag” (department) or the district administration. If a program is held without permission and the law and order situation of the area is disrupted, then the person addressed in this letter (i.e the head of the Hinglaj Shakit Peeth head) will be held responsible.
Further, Newschecker ran keyword searches for “Hinglaj Rajasthan” and “Hinglaj temple ban”, which led us to multiple media reports on restrictions imposed by the police. According to a Hindi report in ABPlive, there is a dispute between two groups and the restrictions were slapped on them in order to maintain peace and order in the temple premises.
Taking a cue from the news report, we ran a Hindi keyword search for “Barmer police Hinglaj”, which led us to two tweets in Hindi, one of them pinned by the Barmer Police Twitter handle, dismissing the viral claims as fake news.
The tweet by Rajasthan Police, dated September 27, stated that there is no restriction on worship and entry into the temple. The picture attached in the tweet listed out five points
- No restriction on pooja or entry
- There is a dispute going on between two groups, for which there is a ban on only those two groups
- Prior permission is needed for organising garba or story telling in the temple;
- There is no restriction on entry for common man or Khatri society;
- Situation is under control, peace is maintained.
The second tweet from Barmer Police, dated September 25, attached a press note, while appealing to the public that the viral news of police stopping worship is baseless and should be ignored.
The press note in Hindi from the Superintendent of Police, Barmer District, Rajasthan, reiterated that the news of the police stopping worship in the Hinglaj temple of Barmer city was false. It states that:
- There was a written complaint received by the Police of factionalism between Khatri community
- Only parties concerned were prohibited from organising events without prior permission from district administration
- No restriction of any kind on worship and entry into the temple for the general public or the Khatri community.
- Rumours on social media are unfounded and false. Ignore these rumours.
We then reached out to the temple, from where we were then guided to one Suraj Khatri, a local who lives near the temple in Barmer. He said the whole issue was blown out of proportion, adding, “One particular group was planning a Ram Katha event for which they hadn’t taken prior permission. Even when they were warned by the temple authorities, they still planned to go ahead with the event, which is when the police intervened and sent a notice. Police stated they will take action if they [the group] went ahead with it. Other than restraining that one group and for that one specific event, there is no ban on entry, pooja or activity within the temple premises. Local media here simply sensationalised everything even though it was just a small, internal issue concerning one group.”
We have also reached out to the additional district magistrate of Barmer, regarding this enquiry. We will update this article once a response is received.
Barring a police notice against some specific persons, there is no ban, from government or police, on the entry or worship for anyone at the Hinglaj Mata temple, nor are there any restrictions against any worship or ritual within the temple premises. The restrictions regarding organising religious programs apply to specific persons of the Khatri community who were reportedly involved in factionalism.
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