Telangana priests, temple employees on strike

Hyderabad, June 4 (IANS) Demanding salaries at par with government employees, thousands of priests and temple staff in Telangana have gone on an indefinite strike from Thursday.

All services at temples managed by the endowments department in Telangana came to a halt as the priests and other employees began the strike.

According to an organization representing the temple employees, 6,000 employees of 2,500 temples in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana are boycotting their duties.

The priests performed ‘abhishekham’ in the temples early in the morning but stopped all other services causing inconvenience to devotees.

The temple staff also stopped issuing tickets to devotees for various rituals.

People visiting several major temples in Hyderabad and neighbouring Ranga Reddy districts complained of hardships due to the strike.

The striking priests and employees also staged protests in the temple premises. Telangana political Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor Kodandaram expressed solidarity with the striking employees.

But the priests and employees of Yadadri, the most famous temple in Telangana, stayed away from the strike.

G. Bhanumurthy, one of the leaders of the Joint Action Committee of priests and employees, said they wanted salaries at par with government employees. They also want the salaries to be paid through treasury.

The Telangana government last year hiked the salaries of its employees by 43 percent.

The priests alleged that the government of united Andhra Pradesh in 2008 had promised to pay the salaries at par with government employees.

The temple staff accused the government of being indifferent towards their problems.

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