10 KVT Nihshulk Shastris barredfrom rituals for fleecing devotees | Varanasi News

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Varanasi: At least 10 ‘Nihshulk Shastris’ (priests engaged to facilitate devotees enter temple after purchasing tickets) have been barred from performing rituals inside Kashi Vishwanath temple. Besides, their identity cards have been cancelled by the temple administration on the charges of misbehaving with devotees and extorting money. Explanation has also been sought from several such priests on different issues.
“A number of complaints had been received against some priests engaged in KVT to facilitate devotees seeking entry after purchasing tickets, especially of Sugam Darshan to avoid spending time in queues. It was alleged that after taking devotees inside the temple, these priests used to force them to perform rituals to milk money from them,” said divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal while talking to TOI on Thursday.
“As the complaints increased, evidence was collected in which 10 Shastris were found involved in malpractices, after which the action of barring them from performing rituals was initiated on Wednesday,” he said adding, “the identity cards issued to those priests have also been cancelled.”
According to temple authorities, the priests in the category of Nihshulk Shastri are engaged by the temple’s help-desk to facilitate devotees entering the temple after purchasing tickets. Against payment of Rs 300 for a Sugam Darshan ticket, each priest sent to facilitate the devotee concerned is paid Rs 30, they said adding that in Shrawan of 2019, a large number of priests in this category had earned over Rs 1 lakh only by receiving the genuine amount paid to them on each ticket.
With the beginning of construction work of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham (corridor) project, the CCTV network installed in and around the KVT was disrupted. Officials said that taking advantage of it, some priests in Nihshulk Shastri category started indulging in malpractices.
The commissioner said that two more Shastris and an assistant public relation officer were also issued show-cause notice for their behaviour. He said that a meeting of Archaks (regular priests) and employees was convened on Wednesday in which it was made clear that those distorting the image of the holy shrine will not be allowed to contribute to the working of the temple.
The officials also praised the Archaks and employees who performed outstandingly during the Shrawan month despite the odds faced by the on-going construction work.





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