The Chardham Devasthanam Board on Wednesday warned of stern legal action against those who stop pilgrims from outside Uttarakhand to visit the Gangotri Dham.
The Panch Mandir Samiti, a body of priests and teerth-purohits of Gangotri Dham, on Tuesday decided to not allow pilgrims from outside the state to visit the temple till August 15 for public safety in view of the growing cases of COVID-19 in the country.
"The decision is illegal. It invites stern punitive action including imprisonment and a fine for those behind it. The Panch Mandir Samiti has no right to take a decision like this," Chardham Devasthanam Board CEO Ravinath Raman told PTI.
The priests and teerth-purohits have been asked by the Uttarkashi district magistrate to withdraw the decision or face action, he said.
Terming the decision of priests a clear act of defiance, Raman said no temple under the jurisdiction of the board can go against its orders.
"If any misbehaviour with pilgrims is reported from Gangotri or anywhere else we will act tough," the board CEO said.
The Devasthanam Board manages 51 temples in Uttarakhand, including the Char Dham.
The Devasthanam Board had opened the Char Dham Yatra for pilgrims from outside the state on July 24 to give an impetus to pilgrimage hit badly by the pandemic.
However, the temple priests decided to close the yatra for pilgrims from outside Uttarakhand and informed the district administration about their decision through a letter.