Pilgrims decry rude conduct at Vaishno Devi Shrine

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Jammu, Oct 8 (UNI) Pilgrims visiting the world famous natural cave temple of Mata Vaishno Devi on Trikuta hills decry the rude behaviour of Shrine Board employees, particularly at the site of worship.

''Whosoever comes here (the temple) after scaling 13 kms height is a devotee of Mata Ji and these people (employees of Board) should at least not consider them as offenders in the shrine,'' Garry Singh, a pilgrim accompanying a group from Punjab, said.

A pilgrim from Maharashtra, Mr Mahesh Iyengar, after visiting the cave shrine, said, ''I'm sorry to say but it was unexpectedly rude behaviour of employees towards devotees at the durbar of Mata Ji.'' ''After several security checks and frisking, right from the beginning of 13 km-long yatra from Katra town, it hurts when you see people being pushed and indecently treated by the board employees inside the cave shrine,'' another devotee Ms Shraddha Singh, a journalist from Ahmadabad (Gujarat), added.

Several verbal as well as written complaints of visitors were lying with the police at the holy Shrine but neither there has been any change in the attitude of the employees towards the pilgrims nor any exemplary action taken in this regard to check such behaviour towards the visitors.

The devotees have also drawn attention of authorities towards some other points of concern.

As the leather goods were not supposed to be carried inside the shrine, the cave temple of Mata Vaishno Devi has perhaps become the first Hindu place of worship where fabric belts are also not allowed worn with the trousers ''for security reasons''.

A senior defence officer, requesting anonymity, informed that family member of armed force personnel was not allowed to accompany him through Gate No. three (meant for services personnel).

''I was told that I would have to go through the Gate No three alone, so to keep my group together I had to take the longest general passage,'' the officer said, regretting that a large number of Shiv Sainiks -- activists of saffron outfit Shiv Sena -- were being allowed to take the army gate on the first day of nine-night festival of Navratra.

''On top of this, was the behaviour of security men of the Board'' the officer said, asserting that it forcee him to advise friends and family members not to visit the shine in such a atmosphere.

Police at Bhawan said, ''we have brought these issues to the Shine Board authorities several times, but we are still receiving the complaints from yatris in this regard.'' UNI VJ RSA BD150

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