Harsh Dev Singh, NPP chairman and MLA, has proposed amendments in the Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious places (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2009, and had placed the same before the select committee of legislative assembly that has been constituted for the purpose.
Presenting his written proposals before the select committee, Singh said the Bill had been conceptualised with a noble objective of protecting and preserving the religious places of Kashmiri Hindus, which have remained unattended or are in ruins or are encroached upon due to mass migration of Kashmiri Hindus after the outbreak of militancy in 1989/90.
In his written arguments, he pointed out that it was manifestly clear from a perusal of the Bill that it covered all Hindu religious places in Kashmir Valley even if they have functioned normally and have effectively and efficiently been managing their property since before and after the outbreak of militancy.
He claimed that there were several organisations, trusts and associations, who had expressed reservations and which were required to be thoroughly debated and deliberated by the select committee, including summoning of various stakeholders, before finalising the draft proposal.
To substantiate his assertions, Singh said J&K Dharmarth Trust Council, which claims to be one of the major stakeholders in the management of Hindu temples and shrines in the Kashmir Valley has alleged that it was not consulted over this vital issue. The trust, which was established by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1826, has a history of more than 187 years. It claims to be having more than 700 employees with sufficient experience to build, restore and manage shrines and temples.
The management comprises eminent personalities with Karan Singh as its chairman trustee. This trust is managing 25 temples in the Valley for more than a century and a half. The trust would like the temples run by it to be excluded from the purview of the Bill.
Similarly Shree Chander Chinar Bada Akhara Udasin Trust also runs an ashram, which is a renowned holy place especially for the followers of Udasin tradition. The history of their 'Asthapan' dates back to more than 500 years and has a pan-India character and hence should not be tagged as a Kashmiri Hindu religious place as represented by them.
Another institution, Ramakrishna Mission, also has a pan-India character and has to be treated accordingly.
It is also suggested by certain scholars and intellectuals that the word Hindus is an inclusive expression and should not be broken into 'Kashmiri Hindus' and 'Dogra Hindus' through a legislation. It is felt that the Hindu community outside Kashmir is equally concerned about the protection and preservation of Kashmiri Hindu shrines and religious places.
Singh, who is also a member of the select committee, called upon the panel to deliberate upon all proposals mooted by him in view of concern shown by various stakeholders and to further ensure the passage of the Bill at the earliest in proper form in the coming autumn session of legislative assembly in Srinagar.