Bharati also reminded the government of his organizations (APMCC’s) warning that a Kafan Yatra from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari would be launched to fight any dilution of the temple bill adding his organization was in favour of a full-fledged temple bill to cover all the temples and shrines of entire J&K state in the second phase.
The major amendments suggested by the working committees for the bill includes constitution of the temple board from the village Temple Management Committee level, treating the existing temple management bodies as the first management body of each temple, bringing all temples under the purview of the bill and uniform development of all temples of Kashmir Valley.This he said was necessary as each and every temple of Kashmiri Hindus has a unique way of performing puja archana, customs, rituals and festivities which a district level board cannot do without local temple management committees elected by local Kashmiri Hindus of each village.
Soom Nath Saraf of Kapal Mochan Trust Shopian said that Temple Bill should not be diluted in any way and original Bill with amendments like inclusion of ground level committees elected by local villagers be incorporated in the Bill.
TK Dhar, of Mata Tripur Sundari reiterated that all temples irrespective of the influence must be brought under the purview of the Bill and treating the existing temple management bodies as the first management body of each temple while Shuban Pandita of ZDPC Srinagar, insisted on continuing the unique traditions, rituals and festivities of the individual temples.Girdhari Lal Bhat of Kheer Bhawani Tikkar and Bansi Lal Pandita, of Shardha Asthapan Commitee Gund-Gushi, Kupwara, said that government must take into confidence those who are working on actual ground level for the welfare of the temples in Kashmir while Suresh Pandita, Secretary (Sharda Mata Trust, Bandipora) and Sanjay Trisal of RAF Rainawari 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.
Advocate Arun Kandroo, Gen Secy APMCC said that while his organization has pioneered the temple movement in Kashmir valley since 2004 which includes two fast unto death by APMCC chairman Vinod Pandit at Jammu and Porbandar Gujarat, the government has ditched them by not keeping its promises made while requesting them to end the fast.
He said that it was ironical that the people who work on ground zero in Kashmir valley and have reopened, repaired, renovated, reconstructed and maintained various temples were never consulted by the government regarding the Bill while on the other hand it was delaying its passage under pressure from influential people who do not want the bill to be passed to loot the temple property in Kashmir through various means.
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.
Bharati said that the government again be-fooled the Kashmiri Hindu community during last Assembly session and sent the Bill to the Select Committee of the State Legislature. Even then Kashmiri Hindus were still hopeful that it would be passed in whatever shape the government brings it.
However unfortunately for the last few weeks an impression is being given through various sources/vested interests that the government was not only sidelining the actual ground level working committees of Valley but also trying to decide the fate of the Bill according to its own whims and fancies to suit a few vested interests even as there are reports that government has roped in some vested interests to dilute the Bill and keep some temples of influential people outside the purview of the Bill
This is a cruel joke with those people who have sacrificed a lot by putting their life into danger to maintain the temples at various places in Valley despite militancy and necessitated to get together and send a clear message to the government that now unless and until the actual ground level working committees of Valley temples and shrines were not taken into confidence by the government and the interests of the individual temples protected they would not allow the government to pass the diluted, one-sided and ill-conceived bill without the recommendations, suggestions and amendments of the actual ground level temple and shrines working committees of the Valley, Bharati added.
The copy of the resolution would be sent to the president of India, Prime Minister, leaders of opposition in both houses of Parliament, Sonia Gandhi, Raj Nath Singh, Governor of J&K, CM of J&K, Speaker, Chairman Select Committee, Law Minister, all members of Select Committee, all ministers, all MLAs and other leaders, he informed.
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 King Bharati, National Spokesperson All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC/Gangbal Trust), Soom Nath Saraf (Kapal Mochan Trust Shopian), Tej Krishan Dhar, President Shri Tripur Sundari Sanstha, Khanbaran, Devsar, Kulgam, Shuban Pandita of Zestha Devi Prabhandhak Committee, ZDPC, Srinagar, Rajinder Raina, 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, Advocate Arun Kandroo Gen Secy APMCC, Tej Krishan Zutshi, Advocate Rajesh Tingloo (Kulgam), Vimarsh Koul (APMCC), Sanjay Trisal, Rainawari Action Forum (RAF), Vaital Bhairav Temple Srinagar, Bansi Lal Pandita, President Shri Shardha Asthapan Committee Gund-Gushi, Kupwara) Sumesh Raina of APMCC.