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Karnataka: State govt demands priest Hiremagaluru Kannan to return 10 years salary

The Karnataka Congress government has raised eyebrows by demanding the return of salaries provided to priests. The case revolves around Hiremagaluru Kannan, a revered Kannada scholar and priest, who has been serving at the Kalyana Kodanda Rama temple on the outskirts of Chikkamagaluru for the past five decades.

Karnataka: State govt demands priest Hiremagaluru Kannan to return 10 years salary
First Published Jan 23, 2024, 3:21 PM IST

For many years, Hiremagaluru Kannan served as the head priest of the Kodanda Rama temple in Hiremagaluru, receiving a monthly salary of Rs 7,500 deposited into his bank account by the government. However, due to the temple's low income, the government has instructed Kannan to return the salary. Consequently, his salary has been withheld, and he has been directed to return Rs. 4,500 from the monthly payment of Rs. 7,500.  A total of Rs. 4,74,000 from the earnings of the last 10 years is required to be refunded.
The district administration, through Tehsildar Sumanth, issued a notice to Hiremagaluru Kannan on December 2, 2023, directing the return of the salary.
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The priest, who leads the daily worship of Sita Rama Lakshmana in the temple, conducts rituals in Kannada, adding a distinct cultural touch to the religious practices. Despite serving the temple and the community for half a century, Kannan is now facing financial difficulties due to the reduction in his monthly income.

Hiremagaluru Kannan's service as a Kannada priest has attracted devotees from all over, seeking the unique experience of Sita Rama Lakshmana worship conducted in their native language. The government's demand for the return of his salary has not only created financial strain for the priest but has also led to concerns about the preservation of cultural diversity and language traditions within the state.

However, Muzarai Minister Ramalinga Reddy has clarified that he wasn't aware of this incident and assured that the issue will be sorted out under his purview. In response, the Minister penned a letter to Chikkamagaluru Deputy Commissioner, urging the withdrawal of the notice demanding the return of the extra funds. It is emphasized that any recovery of the additional funds should be solely carried out by the Tahsildar and the staff, excluding Hiremagaluru Kannan from the repayment process.

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