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Devotees face hardship as temple staff boycott duties

Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA: Devotees visiting the temple of goddess Kanakadurga atop Indrakeeladri on Thursday faced the hardship of not having regular religious and other services due to boycott of duties by the employees and archakas of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla Devasthanam.

The employees and priests, in response to a call for State-wide protest given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Temple Employees Associations, boycotted the work demanding that the State government implement the Pay Revision Commission (PRC)'s recommendations.

Counters closed

Barring a handful of priests inside the temple, all priests boycotted their duties. The devotees had a tough time in securing prasadam and tickets. All prasadam and ticket counters were closed. Preparation of laddu and pulihora was stalled.

The employees and archakas assembled at Rajagopuram to register their protest against the “indifferent approach” of the government towards temple employees. They termed their agitation as “pen down protest” and “non-cooperation”. “This is only a protest and not a strike,” said Challa Simhachalam, president, State Temple Employees' Federation.

Mr. Simhachalam said that they would wait till November 2 for a favourable response from the government. A meeting had been scheduled for November 2 to finalise indefinite protest in case the government failed to respond positively.

The employees said that the JAC representatives submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah a couple of days ago, but there was no positive response from the government. The employees were forced to observe pen down and take up non-cooperation, they said, alleging that the government was extending the PRC to temple employees all these years and changed its mind suddenly.

The State government was taking 21.5 per cent of donations made by the devotees to temples. The Endowments Department was being run with taxes collected from temples. The salaries of Endowments employees, executive staff, Commissioner and the like were being paid from these funds. While these employees were considered government employees, temple employees were being treated as second class citizens, they said.

Apart from implementation of PRC, regularisation of services of Non-Muster Rolls and compassionate appointments were some of their main demands.

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