Ujjain: A surprise crackdown on malpractices at the Mahakaleshwar temple by the police has unearthed a big ‘bhasmarti’ racket involving several senior priests and commission agents in and around the temple premises. The racket was busted when SDM Anil Banwariya made a sudden visit to the temple and interrogated some people suspected of being involved in it.
The SDM’s investigation gave rise to the names of senior priests Pandit Surendra Chaturvedi and Pandit Vyas who were actively involved in misusing or selling their bhasmarti quotas to devotees, to make huge amounts of money. SDM Banwariya in ‘mufti’ discovered this after he interrogated florists Arun Mali and Kalu Seth, who demanded Rs 1000 per head for five people to get a bhasmarti permission letter. A permission letter from the MTMC to enter the sanctum sanctorum is a necessity before a devotee can approach the temple to have a bhasmarti ritual done.
The SDM also found that fake names were being used on permission letters. According to him, shop owner Mayank Agrawal had provided two permission letters to two devotees using fake names. On checking their identity cards, their names did not tally with the names in which permission letters were issued. Agrawal was also handed over to the police for further interrogation.
The SDM also interrogated devotees who told him that permission letters were obtained on paying Rs 1100 per letter. According to SDM Banwariya, several complaints were received about money being demanded from devotees to get the permission letters issued, which has put the temple management too on alert. The administration has started probe to identify more people involved in such activities.