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Jains protest against Rajasthan HC decision on “Santhara”

    Belagavi (Karnataka), August 24, 2015: The “Samasth Jain Samaj” has demanded that the Prime Minister intervene immediately to ensure that the religious rights and interests of Jains were well protected by all the three pillars of democracy.

    As part of the nationwide protest by Jain communities against the recent judgment of the Rajasthan High Court, which likened the Jain religious practices of “Santhara” or “Sallekhana” to suicide and “Sati” system, over 1,000 members of the community converged at the busy Rani Channamma Circle here today and formed a human chain leading to disruption of traffic movement for a while. Subsequently they staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. The protest was led by Samaj’s Working President Rajeev S. Doddannavar, Hon. Secretary Rajendra Jain and former MLA Abhay Patil.

    Addressing the gathering, Mr. Jain said several ancient Jain scripts substantially shows that ‘Santhara’ or ‘Sallekhana’ was not an act of suicide but a devout religious practice. “The court pronounced the judgment without understanding the concept and objectives, the element of rationality behind this practice continuing since thousands of years and shook the entire Jain community.”

    He said ahimsa (non-violence) was the very essence of Jain religion and none of its followers would even dream of committing violence on any living being. The Constitution of India, under Article 21 and 25, allowed every citizen to follow his or her religion and lead life accordingly.

    “No rule in India prohibits the practice of religious sadhana. Branding ‘Santhara’ as an act of suicide and thereby banning it is nothing but denying the fundamental right to religion. We believe in ahimsa and ‘live and let live’ philosophy and ‘universal peace’ but cannot accept infringement of our religious right and oppose it tooth and nail.”

    The Samaja members said saints and sadhakas had been practising ‘Santhara’ since time immemorial to minimise the bridge between life and death voluntarily and urged the Prime Minister to respond to the issue and protect the religious rights of Jains in India, even as the community members have planned to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the Rajasthan High Court’s judgment soon.

    The Samaja submitted memoranda addressed to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Rajasthan in support of their demands to the Deputy Commissioner. The Samaja members, who sported black ribbons on their arms, also shut down their business and all other commercial activities for the day. – News Courtesy: The Hindu

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