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Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu seek passage of Temple Bill without dilution; threaten nationwide agitation if fractured bill is passed
Various actual ground level working Management Committees of temples and shrines of Kashmir Valley and Hindu organizations of Jammu have asked the government to pass the pending Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious Places (Management and Regulation) Billduring the current session of the Assembly but without any dilution and include each and every temple under the purview of the proposed bill adding if government keeps any temple away from the purview of the Bill no management committee would let their temples to be taken over by the proposed board and stake holders would launch a nationwide agitation to expose the double standards of the government.
Addressing a press conference in this regard the Apex Body of Kashmiri Pandits, All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) leaders Vinod Pandit, Chairman and King Bharati, National Spokesperson alongwith representatives of various temple management committees working in Kashmir Valley and Hindu organizations of Jammu while welcoming the proposal of the government to pass the Temple Bill took serious exception to the observations of Jammu based legislators seeking exclusion of various trusts and temples from the purview of the Bill.

Addressing the media the leaders said that it was unfortunate that Jammu based legislators were favouring a few influential people rather than the common man adding no Hindu organization would tolerate such an attitude and a fractured Bill if passed will be fought tooth and nail.

Jammu based leaders Pritam Sharma of Kranti Dal, Karnail Chand of Dharmarth Trust Sudhar Sangarsh Samiti and Vikas Dewan of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena while rejecting the contention of Jammu based legislators said that they were supporting the corrupt people who have turned these temples into their private properties adding temples are public properties and nobody will be allowed to dilute this Bill.

They also said that this Bill should include all the temples of Kashmir region adding instead there should be a state wide Hindu Shrine board under which all the religious places of Hindus should be brought.

Reminding the government of its two phase fast unto deaths at Jammu and Porbandar Vinod Pandit warned the government of another agitation if the Bill was diluted in any form.

King Bharati said that the likeminded Hindu organizations of Kashmir and Jammu are one on this front adding government must remember the resolution of the actual ground level working management committees in which it was clearly mentioned that if any temple is kept outside the purview of the Bill they too won’t let their temples be overtaken by the board.

Soom Natn Saraf of Kapal Mochan Trust Shopian said that representatives of various ground level management committees have resolved that a diluted temple Bill won’t be acceptable to them as it were these management committees working on ground level in Kashmir who are the real stake holders of the temple movement in Kashmir Valley.

TK Dhar, of Mata Tripur Sundari listed the proposed 15 amendments suggested by the working committees adding if the government tries to accommodate certain influential people by keeping temples under their control out of the purview of the Bill they will be forced to launch an agitation and won’t let the temples under their control to be taken over by the proposed board.

Girdhari Lal Bhat of Kheer Bhawani Tikkar said that government must take into confidence those who are working on actual ground level for the welfare of the temples in Kashmir while Rattan Lal Bhat, Chairman (Sharda Mata Trust, Bandipora) said that that the existing temple management committee’s should have the voting right to elect the members of the Board

Yoginder Singh Jamwal (Mata Katyayani & Bhoot Nath Temple Kakran), suggested including the Shamshann Bhoomi (cremation grounds) under the definitions of the shrines of Kashmiri Hindus in the Bill to protect them from encroachments.

He said that during 2011, 10-day long fast unto death by Vinod Pandit, the then minister RS Chib had assured a dialogue but nothing moved further adding during 2013 Porbandar (Gujarat) 15-day long fast unto-death the Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister through a faxed message to Collector Porbandar, Government of Gujarat on February 14, 2013 vide DO Letter No PS/HMOS/ Rev/ 986/2013 Dated 13-02-2013, had requested them that the government was seized of the issues and the same were being examined at the appropriate levels and the fast may be called off.

However after first round of talks with the minister in his office chambers on February 28, 2013 where a list of temple encroachments was also submitted to him, APMCC heard nothing from the government thus once again being ditched by the government.

Major points of the Resolution passed by the representatives of Management Committees

1. That the government must take into confidence the Temple Management Committees working on actual ground in Kashmir Valley before incorporating any amendments in the proposed Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious Places (Management and Regulation) Bill, pending with Select Committee of the State Legislature.

2. That all Temples, Shrines, Holy Hillocks, Holy Springs, Holy Places etc from Jawahar Tunnel to Uri and Ladakh region should be brought under the purview of the Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious Places (Management and Regulation) Bill

3. That the Temple Management Committees working on actual ground at present and for the past 23 years of militancy, who have managed, repaired, renovated and maintained the temples and shrines should be the first management committees of the respective temples answerable to the proposed Temple Management Committees.

4. That the Management Committees working on ground are ready to handover the temples under their control to the proposed Temple Board under one condition that all temples, Maths and temples managed by various trusts are also brought under the purview of the Bill.

5. That the constitution of the proposed Board should start from the level of each elected temple management committee till state level and not from district level as that will not only hamper the development of individual temples but also compromise on the unique traditions of rituals, festivities and other daily routine of individual temples.

6. That the   existing temple management committee’s should have the voting right to elect the members of the Board

7. That a clause be added to the Temple Bill to declare all encroachments effected since 1990 as null and void and the Board must have absolute powers to immediately remove any encroachments of the religious places since 1990 without having to wait for government sanction.

8. That no government intervention should be there in the religious affairs of the Kashmiri Hindu community and the Chairman and all other members of the Board must be elected by the community; within the Kashmiri Hindu community only with only one Kashmiri Hindu as nominated ex-officio member of the government.

9.  That only the people with proven track record of religious social work should be eligible to contest elections to be the members of the board.

10. That Temple management committee should be authorized to spend funds for the development of the temple without having to confront red-tapism of the government.

11. That a provision to divert funds from rich temples for the development of small temples be incorporated in the bill by creating a central pool of funds where every small temple must also  contribute atleast 10% of its earnings towards the central pool for uniform development.

12. That the legislation must be clear to maintain and uphold the unique rituals, traditions, festivities and customs according to individual temple and people doing rituals according to traditions should be allowed to continue to perform the rituals in the respective temples.

13. That any temple management Committee, Trust, Muth organization thus constituted should not have more than one temple under its control, whatsoever be the circumstances.

14. That the Board members must identify and elect the temple /shrine management committee where there is no existing committee or any Kashmiri Hindu population around.

15. That margats (Hindu Cremation Grounds) should also be added to the Bill besides other places of worship under definitions of shrines in the Bill.

Those who were present in the press conference include Vinod Pandit, Chairman APMCC, King Bharati, National Spokesperson Soom Nath Saraf (Kapal Mochan Trust Shopian), Tej Krishan Dhar, President Shri Tripur Sundari Sanstha, Khanbaran, Devsar, Kulgam, Pritam Sharma, Gen Secy, Kranti Dal, Karnail Chand of Dharmarth Trust Sudhar Sangarsh Samiti, Vikas Diwan of Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena, Ashok Kumar Ganjoo of Zestha Devi Prabhandhak Committee, ZDPC, Srinagar,  Rajinder Ji Vice President, Sanatan Dharam Sabha Handwara, Yoginder Singh Jamwal (Mata Katyayani & Bhoot Nath Temple Kakran, Kulgam), Girdhari Lal Bhat President (Mata Kheer Bhawani Asthapan, Tikkar Kupwara), Suresh Pandita, Secretary (Sharda Mata Trust, Kaloosa Bandipora), Sohan Lal Raina, Secy Sadhu Ganga Asthapan, Kandi Khaas, Kupwara, Tej Krishan Zutshi, Vimarsh Koul (APMCC), Bansi Lal Ji, President Shri Shardha Asthapan Committee Gund-Gushi, Kupwara) Sumesh Raina of APMCC.
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