Thursday, 11 April 2013

Hindu Shrines Bill referred to House Select Committee

Jammu, Apr 5: Setting aside the unanimous demand of the opposition members to pass the Bill for Protection and Management of Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious Places, the state government Friday referred the bill to a House Select Committee maintaining that there are certain loopholes in the proposed legislation that need to be reviewed.  While the members from the treasury benches insisted that the bill be sent to Select Committee for making it comprehensive and foolproof, opposition members from Jammu region supported by MY Tarigami, and Er Rashid demanded that the bill be passed and required amendments can be made by the House later on.  National Conference (NC) members insisted that Kashmiri Muslims must be involved in the management committees to look after the affairs of Hindu temples and shrines in the valley as they are locals and are in majority. They also said that Kashmiri Muslims have been protecting the Hindu religious places in the valley for the last twenty years and their involvement would help in better management and protection of Kashmiri Hindu religious places particularly in the absence of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley.
 Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Mir Saifullah said, “There are a few lacunae in the bill that need to be addressed, otherwise the bill will not meet its objective and will also not serve the purpose”, adding that government is concerned about the matter that is why it brought the bill.  Pointing out grey areas in the bill like government funding, evacuation of encroachments and salaries of members, Law Minister said, “For addressing these issues, it is necessary that the bill must be sent to a House Select Committee”. He also said that involvement of Kashmiri Muslims is must for management and protection of Hindu shrines in the valley adding that they can protect them better when Hindus are not there.
 Earlier, Dr Mustafa Kamaal said that involvement of Muslims doesn’t mean interference in the religious affairs. “It is necessary to resolve minor issues like usage of places, parks, roads during religious functions or on some other occasions. It will also avoid undue confrontation”, he asserted. Other members including Javed Ahmed Dar and Aijaz Ahmed Jan also demanded that bill should be sent to Select Committee.
 MY Tarigami, however, opposed the inclusion of Muslims in the committees   and demanded passage of the bill. “There is a Waqaf Board, can you involve Kashmiri Pandits there? What is the message you are giving? Kashmiri Pandits are a part of Kashmir’s culture, give them their right which they have been demanding since 2009”, he asserted adding that Kashmiri Muslims are secular. 
 Er Abdul Rashid also said that bill must be passed leaving the amendments to be made later on.
 Harsh Dev Singh, while demanding passage of the bill, said the government should provide financial assistance for maintenance and protection of Hindu religious places in the Valley. He also said the government should also mention in the bill as to how it is going to get the encroachments removed. He, however, said that amendments can be made later and the bill must be passed.

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