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Bodhi tree controversy

NOW.tv, June 25, 2007

Bodh Gaya, India -- In exclusive report by Times Now, the Bodh Gaya Temple management finds itself in the midst of a fresh controversy, with a criminal complaint filed in the court against the cutting off a branch of the famous 'Mahabodhi' tree.

<< BODHI TREE CHOPPED OFF: The Bodh Gaya Temple management finds itself in the midst of a fresh controversy, with a criminal complaint filed in the court against the cutting off a branch of the famous 'Mahabodhi' tree

The temple gardener, Deepak Malakar, has made a damning confession that he had chopped off the branch, on the orders of the Chief Priest, Bodhi Pal, and had left the branch at the priest’s house. One year after it was first reported, the cut in Gaya's ancient Bodhi tree, the issue is coming back to haunt the Bodh Gaya temple management committee. In July 2006, a branch of the tree under which Buddha attained 'Nirvana' was chopped off but the incident had been soon hushed up.

The Bihar government had placed an inquiry though but had soon dismissed it as an old cut.

According to Deepk Malakar, the gardener of Maha Bodhi Temple, "I cut the branch on 10th July at around 1 pm. I was not allowed to speak after the incident blew into a controversy. I was held captive by the temple management committee and they had threatened me to not speak out about it."

Its a serious charge against the Bodh Temple management and the Chief Priest and they have come out to defend themselves, stating that they have no idea how this branch was chopped off.

Kalicharan Yadav, the Secretary, Bodhgaya Temple management committee, quotes, "A controversy can be raised over anything. You may do something good but even that can be turned into a controversy. But in this case, many people including scientists, have seen the cut and said its been there for a long time."

Times Now has learnt that by selling off the 'Bodhi' branch, the temple management could make huge gains. Last year, it had been exposed how the Chief Priest was receiving money from foreign pilgrims, citing a charity purpose that found no mention in the temple's accounts. But that has not stirred the state government.

Afzal Amznullah, the Home Secretary of Bihar, says, "It is very clear that the cut is not of recent origin. It is at least a couple of years old. The photographs that we have of 2001, 2004 and 2006, all show the cut in exactly the same manner."

Inspite of repeated attempts, the Bihar government is still tight-lipped about this new controversy, surrounding the holy 'Bodhi' tree. But this chilling confession would surely bring out international ramifications, and would become the cause of a major embarrassment, for both the temple management committee as well as the Bihar government.



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