BJP leader alleges overcharging for post-death rites at Pehowa
Hurt over the Haryana Government’s inability to address her “social cause” of checking the alleged charging of arbitrary dakshina (religious fee) by pandas (priests), veteran BJP leader from Amritsar Laxmi Kanta Chawla does not want her post-funerary rituals to be performed at Pehowa town.
The former Health Minister of Punjab told over the phone that in the past year, she had written several times to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Women and Child Welfare Minister Kavita Jain without getting any response.
“After the death of my brother, I visited Pehowa for rituals on May 13 last year. Two women were crying at the Saraswati tirtha area as the pandas demanded Rs10,000 as dakshina. The women told me they did not have enough money, but the pandas were adamant on not reducing their fee,” said Chawla. She clarified that the pandas did not overcharge her.
Hindus visit Pehowa, about 40 km from here, for rituals after the death of a family member. They also get entered their personal details in the bahis or record registers maintained by the pandas.
Chawla said the Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB) and the district authorities should prominently display dakshina rates at Pehowa to ensure that no common man is fleeced in the name of rituals.
Her representation to the Deputy Commissioner was included in Thursday’s monthly public grievances meeting chaired by Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Karan Dev Kamboj.
However, the complaint could not be resolved in the absence of the complainant.
“I feel pained at the indifferent attitude of the authorities in Haryana and at the inhuman and commercial activities at the religious place in the name of rituals. Offices of the CM, whom I know as a party colleague for decades, and minister Kavita Jain did not even acknowledge my petition. I have strictly told my family members not to visit Pehowa for any ritual after my death,” she said.
Meanwhile, DC SS Phulia said he had recently convened a meeting of the purohits of Pehowa where they denied charging arbitrarily.
“We will again interact with the pandas to find a solution to the issue. Pehowa should definitely not reflect that visitors are cheated,” said the DC.