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Kedarnath Priests Encircle IAS Officer Over Unfulfilled Reconstruction Promises

The incident occurred after Pandey had completed his prayers and was inspecting the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Kedarpuri.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Senior IAS officer Arvind Pandey faced a challenging situation on Wednesday when he was surrounded by a group of priests and traders during his visit to the Kedarnath temple. Pandey, who currently serves as the Secretary of the State Information Commission, had gone to the revered Himalayan shrine to pay his respects. However, his visit took an unexpected turn as the local community prevented him from leaving for several hours.

The incident occurred after Pandey had completed his prayers and was inspecting the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Kedarpuri. According to Rajkumar Tiwari, President of Kedar Sabha—a collective of Kedarnath priests—the local priests and traders expressed their dissatisfaction with Pandey due to unfulfilled promises he allegedly made during his tenure as Additional Secretary in the state government. Their grievances centered on the disruption caused by excavation works in front of their homes and shops, initiated as part of reconstruction projects before this year’s Yatra season, leaving their demands unmet.

The situation was eventually defused after several hours, thanks to the intervention of Anil Shukla, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Ukhimath. Shukla engaged with the protesting group and assured them that their concerns would be communicated to the state government for further action. The standoff, which lasted about eight hours, highlighted the ongoing tensions between local communities and authorities over development projects in the region.

When reached for comment, Shukla confirmed that the priests and traders had presented a set of demands that needed to be addressed by higher officials. This incident underscores the delicate balance required between preserving the sanctity and tradition of religious sites like Kedarnath and implementing necessary infrastructural enhancements. As the situation develops, it remains to be seen how the state government will respond to the grievances aired by Kedarnath’s local community.


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