Temple bill sent to joint select committee, BJP warns of Amarnath-like agitation

Jammu: The Kashmir Hindu Shrines bill for management of temples by government was Tuesday referred to the joint select committee after it saw stiff opposition from BJP, Panthers Party and even ruling Congress members.
Noisy scenes were witnessed as the bill on management, protection, administration and governance of Hindu shrines and religious places in the state was moved by Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs Abdul Rahim Rather on behalf of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister for passage in the Assembly.
Demanding several amendments including exclusion of some trust from the purview of the bill, JKNPP member Harsh Dev said the “government cannot forcibly occupy the temples in the Valley belonging to us as it violates Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) and Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution.”
BJP members warned of a situation similar to the Amarnath agitation, saying the measure will be opposed by people in Jammu, and demanded that the government withdraw the bill.
Jugal Kishore and Ashok Khajuria of BJP said the bill has serious ramifications as people who ran the affairs of the temples in Kashmir during militancy cannot be forced to leave.
“There can be situation similar to that of Amarnath land row if the bill is passed in its original form,” Khajuria said. Prof Chaman Lal Gupta also opposed the bill.
Ashok Kumar of Congress also opposed the bill and called for sending it to Joint Select Committee (JSC), having members of both houses.
Congress Minister Sham Lal Sharma called for sending the Bill to a select committee by including a Kashmiri Pandit member from Upper house as well as some prominent members of community.
However, PDP member Nizanuddin Bhat and Abdul Rahman Veeri favoured passage of the bill in its original shape. NC’s Mustafa Kamal, who is member of the select committee, said all the conditions have been satisfied and bill should be passed.
“If this bill is not passed in the house, how can you go for return and rehabilitation package. You should not decieve Kashmiri Pandits,” Engineer Rasheed said.
CPI(M) Member M Y Tarigami also batted for passage of the bill in its orginal shape.
As the two sides exchanged heated words, Speaker Mubarak Gul adjourned the house. As the house re-assembled, Rather said there was an option of sending the bill to JSC.
The Speaker too cited the differences in the house and the Bill was sent to JSC with a voice vote.
“The Temple Bill was discussed in details and there was no consensus on the legislation. Most of the members from opposition and treasury benches favoured referring it to the Joint Select Committee for more deliberations and evolving a consensus before its passage,” Sharma told reporters.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, however, hit out at the government, saying it had insulted the house. “The bill was approved by the cabinet of Congress-NC coalition government.
There were no differences. Government brought the bill in the house for passage but sent it to JSC. It is an insult to the house,” she said.
Tarigami hit out at the government for sending the bill to JSC in “violation of the rules and playing with sentiments of KPs”.
Kashmiri Pandit leader R L Bhat said that the community has been hurt by the stand of the elected representatives.

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