Ujjain: On the last Monday of the holy month of Shrawan, crowds swelled at the steps of Mahakaleshwar temple to have a glimpse of the deity. Shrawan will end, crowds, too, will ebb… but, the taint of bloodbath and scams in the temple town will not fade. This Shrawan was not so pious for the locals who said it will be remembered more for the murders, pickpockets and frauds that robbed the spirit of piety. Irate residents question how this could happen when the city of temples boast of its energy minister, Paras Jain, who is locally more famous as Pahalwan, a fitness-freak Ujjain SP Sachin Atulkar, and district collector Manish Singh, who is known for his “Dhakad” performance as the Indore civic chief.
Murder over a photo frame
On August 18, a devotee was stabbed to death by a shop owner near the temple’s Bhasamaarti gate. The deceased, Vishnu Panchal, a local resident was returning from the temple after darshan with his wife and 8-year-old son, Ansh. Ansh had mistakenly dropped a photo frame of Shiva which broke. The petty issue, however, cost his father’s life. Accused Amit Trivedi, owner of the shop, stabbed Panchal and his wife repeatedly with a knife, leaving Vishnu bleeding to death and Pooja critical.
A florist was murdered, too
Earlier, in April Sanjay Kahar, a florist was stabbed to death over old enmity owing to encroachment, just a few hundred meters away from the temple.
On August 7, 3 touts stabbed Pankaj Mishra and his friend Rahul, residents of Bhind, overpayment for arranging Bhasmaarti permission.
The Bhasmaarti scam
The early morning ritual of Bhasmaarti is the most sought-after ritual among devotees. Despite the temple management making the facility available online and free over the counter, a nexus of priests, temple staffers, administrative authorities and local journalists have made it their business to get permissions illegally for hefty amounts!
VIP vs commoners
A priest said that on Nagpanchami this year, the administration claimed that over 3500 devotees will get darshan of Nagchandreshwar every hour, while the temple can hold around 30 people every minute. While VIP’s got darshans, commoners stood in queue for over 8 hours!
When DB Post visited the Mahakal temple…
The chaos at the temple is a crying witness of the gross mismanagement on campus. Commoners could hardly get a glimpse of the deity in the ‘Nandi Hall’ thanks to VIPs! This list include titled VIPs and make-shift one comprising families of cops, pujaris and admin officials. With VIPs clogging the gates of Garbha Griha, pilgrims outside the barricades can hardly get a glimpse. What’s more, cops also facilitate VIPs with personal darshans!
What they say
Average wait time in queues is about 2-3 hours, sans healthcare or even water! Secondly, inside the temple, there is a mad scramble from devotees trying to get out. And then, there is a continuous flow of VIPs and VVIPs that prevent common man from entering the temple at the same time. This leads to more chaos.
-Amar Dabbawala, a local priest
￼An anti-encroachment drive will be carried out around the temple premises where encroachment is rampant. Records of shop allotment are being scrutinised to verify actual sanctions by the corporation. A new layout plan is also underway to change planning of temple complex
-Manish Singh, DM Ujjain & chairman SMTMC