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Passage of Kashmiri shrine bill hits rough weather

The Kashmiri Hindu shrines and religious places bill, which was tabled in the assembly in 2009, has hit rough weather.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2013 00:39 IST
Navneet Dubey

The Kashmiri Hindu shrines and religious places bill, which was tabled in the assembly in 2009, has hit rough weather.

Reservations were expressed about the intent of the bill as the term Kashmiri in the bill has raised suspicion.

Dharmarth Trust, which manages and maintains about 50 temples in Kashmir, alleged that it was a conspiracy to remove small imprints of erstwhile Dogra rule from the valley.

Kashmiri pandit organistaions have, however, said that the bill should become an Act as properties of temples across Kashmir have been encroached upon and there management should be handed over to the government.

The then Dogra ruler Ghulab Singh established Dharmarth Trust in 1846, whose chairman trustee is member Parliament Dr Karan Singh.

Kashmir Pandit organisations have said that after their migration from the valley, about two decades ago, temple lands have not only been encroached upon, but even their existence was under threat.

"Dharmarth Trust is managing 45 temples in the valley for the past 166 years. The trust managed them even when the militancy was at its peak. But in framing this bill, the government did not consult us. It raises suspicion about the real intention of the government," president J&K Dharmarth Trust, major general RS Jamwal (retd) said.

Finance minister AR Rather proposed the bill first, when he was in the Opposition. It was tabled in 2009 but after much debate in the assembly, it was referred to select committee.

Panthers Party has already moved an amendment proposing to keep temples managed by trust out of the bill.

"The trust has been managing these temples for the past 166-years. So it shouldn't be included in the bill," party MLA Harsh Dev Singh said.Harsh Dev has even expressed reservation about the term Kashmiri in the bill.

"There can't be Kashmiri or Dogra Hindu. All are equally concerned about the management of temples. This segregation raises suspicion," said Harsh Dev. The trust manages famous temples such as Shankaracharya and Kheer Bhawani.

The trust also alleged that the land of temples managed by Kashmiri Pandits has been sold out by their 'caretakers'. But Kashmiri Pandit organisations are keen on passage of the bill.

"The bill is aimed at restoring and preserving temples and shrines in the valley.

Countless temples and shrines and other landmarks of Hindu civilisations in Kashmir has been encroached upon and are deteriorating with every passing day. No distinction should be made between Kashmiri Hindu Temples and Non-Kashmiri Hindu Temples," Arjun Pandita, chairman Pandit Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust said.