A bill for the better management of Kashmiri Hindu shrines, introduced in 2009, was referred to the select committee after NC legislators pointed to some lacunae and demanded that role majority community -- Kashmiri Muslims -- should also be defined in the bill, which is not in the original draft.
The Bill was first introduced in 2009 but it never came up for consideration and for passage in the House. Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been pressing for this bill for the past four years.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister Mir Saif-ullah said a number of members have raised some important points and expressed apprehensions that if the bill is passed in the present form, it will defeat the purpose. “It's for these reasons the bill be send to the select committee,” said the law minister. The bill was sent to the select committee after the members present gave their assent in voice-vote.
NC MLA Mustafa Kamal said majority community -- Muslims -- have been maintaining these shrines for the past 20 years and it is for them they are being preserved.
“A religious procession is also taken by Hindus and for such an event, to make preparations for it and also for allowing route to it, the role of local Kashmiri Muslims should also be defined in it,” said Mustafa Kamal.
However, MLA Chaman Lal Gupta said had local Kashmiri Muslims been preserving it and no encroachment had taken place, the bill was not needed.
“The bill should be passed and if there are some issues left it can be corrected by amendments,” said Chaman Lal.
CPM MLA MY Tarigami strongly pitched for the passage of the bill and said Kashmiri Pandits are an integral part of Kashmir and the bill should not be further delayed.
“If there is no Hindu member in Waqf board, why a Muslim should be given role in the management of Hindu shrines?” said Tarigami.
Independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid said while the bill should be passed the Kashmiri Pandits should also come back and face the hardships faced by Muslims. “They can't wait till the last bullet is stopped. They should also face hardships like we (Muslims) face like being beaten up by security forces and other atrocities. Nobody had deliberately encroached upon temple land, rather people have saved it,” said Rashid.
Harsh Dev, while demanding the passage of the bill said there should be a mechanism to remove encroachments and also the source of its financial funding by the government.
JSM MLA said the bill has already been delayed and it should be passed immediately.
NC MLA Javed Dar said since Kashmiri Muslims have been protecting temples for the past 20 years, they should be given some role in the protection of temples.