Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hon'ble President : Please stop imminent sale of 3000 acres of temple lands in East Godavari district

mar 28th

meanwhile, back at the ranch, the christist fundamentalist samuel reddy is preparing to destroy hinduism in andhra just as it has been destroyed by christists in kerala.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Naresh Khanna <nkk1113@gmail.com>
Date: Mar 28, 2006 10:54 AM
Subject: Fwd: Hon'ble President : Please stop imminent sale of 3000 acres of temple lands in East Godavari district
To: nkk1113@hotmail.com



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Krishan Bhatnagar <krishan.kb@verizon.net>
Date: Mar 28, 2006 8:47 AM
Subject: Hon'ble President : Please stop imminent sale of 3000 acres of temple lands in East Godavari district
To: Undisclosed-Recipient

Please circulate the attached appeal to  Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India :
You may send your comments to the following 
 
President of India                      presidentofindia@rb.nic.in
Prime Minister, New Delhi          manmohan@sansad.nic.in
 
CM, Andhra Pradesh                 cmap@ap.nic.in ; drysr@ap.gov.in;
 
Shri L.K . Advani, BJP               advanilk@sansad.nic.in
Shri Rajnath Singh ,                   rajnath@sansad.nic.in
President BJP
 
BJP head office, New Delhi        bjpco@del3.vsnl.net.in
VHP, New Delhi                         jaishriram@vsnl.in
 
Thanks
Krishan Bhatnagar
Hindu Jagran Forum (Maryland, USA)
March 28, 2006
======================================================
 
Letter to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India
 
Subject: Please intervene to stop imminent sale of 3000 acres of temple lands in East Godavari district against the wishes of the Hindu Community.  AP Govt. as trustees, must be accountable to Hindu "samaj"
 
 Hon'ble President Kalam,
 
The Andhra Pradesh Govt., in continuation of its deliberate crusade against the Hindu religious establishments, has decided to sell the remaining 3,000 acres of temple endowment lands in East Godavari district on a war footing (attachment A). This expeditious measure, being taken without public debate and approval of the Hindu community, on whose behalf the Govt. acts as trustees is highly distressing. The statement by the Endowments assistant Commissioner that "they could fulfill the ideals of donors by doing so" is untenable. Only the community could decide it. The Govt. management of temples is arbitrary and discretionary without transparency or community involvement. It seems that there exists an anti Hindu zeal in the state administration – therefore, rather than modifying the state laws to protect the endowments, they are using a Supreme Court judgment as a tool for demolishing the Hindu religious infrastructure.  Mr. President, your immediate intervention is needed to direct the Govt. to freeze the sale of all lands and properties till the temples are reverted to the community and rescind the previous sales.
 
Flagrantly trampling upon the very basic principles of secularism requiring separation of state and religion - a worldwide norm in all democratic and open societies, Hindu temples and endowments were nationalized in Andhra Pradesh and many parts of India with the promise and premise of an open, transparent and an efficient management. But alas, the Govt. performance fundamentally defied that claim. The sweeping nationalization of temples is also squarely discriminatory against Hindus, while the minorities such as Muslims and Christians govern their places of worship.
 
Half of the temple lands in the East Godavari District have already been sold, while the remaining 3,000 acres are awaiting auction "on a war footing" which will make all temples in the district totally devoid of any endowment lands for sustenance. Such a crash sale of the lands that have been there for decades and perhaps centuries makes the intent of the decision suspicious. Are the authorities trying to hide the incompetence in keeping lands from illegal occupation or disposing them for political, financial motivations, or by an anti- Hindu bias to encourage minority adversarial faiths and present the land disposal to the community as a fait accompli? Such actions give credence to the allegation that the Chief Minister, Dr. Samuel Reddy sees the Hindu infrastructure through the prism of his personal faith rather than a protector of all faiths.
 
These actions seriously jeopardize the preservation and propagation of Hindu cultural and spiritual values and therefore, call for the total withdrawal of the state from controlling the Hindu religious entities. The apparent argument that the dismantling of the fabric of the centuries old and time -tested structure of Hindu system of worship (by taking away temples' sustenance) is necessary for uplifting the poor, and the selling of the remaining 50% lands for a few crores of rupees will help the temples is flawed. Why have even half of lands been sold in a hurry without the community's approval who are the real owners of the endowments? The state has failed even to give any logical explanation in support of such illegal and unconstitutional activities. Under these circumstances not only should the present sale be stopped forthwith but the previous sale of half of the lands must be also rescinded.
 
It may be noted that AP has perhaps the largest ministry of  77,000 bureaucrats to manage some 33,000 temples. There are also allegations that the Govt. siphons away 85% of temple revenues to the state exchequer for the upkeep of the ministry, leaving pujaris to starve. Sometime ago it was reported in media that the Govt. had yet to reimburse Rs. 28 crores to the endowments department for lands they acquired for Police stations, bus stands, etc. The record of the state is highly anti- Hindu with seeming intent to demolish the Hindu religious infrastructure (attachment B). The management of temples is non- transparent. It aims at keeping the community in the dark about its assets as also about the financial and religious management of the temples and their estates.
 
The state has seriously violated the constitution : a) by denying Hindus  their fundamental "Religious Rights' guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution to establish, maintain religious institutions; to own and acquire movable and immovable property;  and to administer such property in accordance with law.; and b) by  gross misuse of state powers under Concurrent List (Article 246 (2) , Seventh Schedule, List 3 - item 28) on religious institutions by unwarranted acquisition of temples and squarely discriminating against Hindu religious institutions (attachments C1 and C2).
 
Further the Indian Parliament through an Act in 1991 legislated that –"the status of religious places, as on August 15, 1947 shall be retained".  A faithful implementation of these laws will require removal of govt. control upon Hindu temples which then could be transferred to the jurisdiction of an autonomous Hindu Board.  For any potential allegations of mismanagement, legal avenues are available to government e.g.  the administration could appoint auditors and make specific recommendations for transparency and accountability rather than usurping places of worship.
 
Sir, the state authorities seem oblivious that under the provisions of the Indian constitution, controlling, discriminating, managing, reforming or patronizing religions is completely and fully out side the parameters of government jurisdiction. Why not allow an autonomous Hindu board to govern temples under the guidance of religious leaders, just as it is permissible in the case of other religions?  The Waqf Board of Muslims and the management of Christian churches and religious institutions have vast funds, properties and endowments, in addition to the immense flow of foreign funds - yet their independence and autonomy is left intact!
 
It is baffling how the AP assembly could pass legislation which is violative of the Constitution and also against the accepted norms in all free and democratic societies. Most importantly it is applied discriminatively only to Hindu temples, and amounts to suppression of Hindus human rights of religious freedom. As proven by their injurious governance, the state legislature may have passed the measure to takeover temples on the basis of misinformed and biased voting or for political, financial and anti- Hindu interests in endowments. Our contention is corroborated by the passage of an illegal Bill in AP Assembly for religion based reservation for the Muslims in AP, which was declared unconstitutional and therefore, overturned by the Supreme Court
 
Sir, Govt. control is causing effective de- Hinduisation of the temples. The temple is not just for rituals by purohits and for tourist curiosity that the government wants to project but also the centre of community's socio-cultural life, a place of learning with Acharyas, for community sewa, dharma prachar and for character building. The grandeur of Hinduism - its Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana,  Mahabharata, the Bhagwad Geeta - its glorious ancient culture, spirituality and values that the community would like to project and propagate can only be done under a devoted Hindu religious governance, without the interference by the state.
 
Given the Govt.'s mission of anti-Hinduism every place of Hindu worship and reverence is now under attack in Andhra Pradesh (attachment B):  The regressive state control has seriously interfered in the spiritual and cultural activities, violated religious sentiments, and suppressed Hindus human right of religious freedom. At the cost of the temple revenues the state has built and maintained a large endowments bureaucracy while the pujaris have been left to starve. All this violation and disrespect of Hinduism is taking place while its perpetrators hide behind the cover of secularism and democracy. Can the Indian authorities dare to formalize and enforce a similar takeover plan for Jama Masjid, Churches of India or Golden Temple and will the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs permit it?  Obviously the answer is an emphatic no.
 
The fury in the Islamic world over Prophet Mohammed's cartoons should serve as a serious warning against desecration and demolition of Hindu institutions by the state and against offensive acts like selling of endowment lands meant for temples sustenance in perpetuity. Further, terrorist attacks from Raghunath temple to Akshardham and from Ayodhya to Sankat Mochan at Varanasi and Govt's inability to safeguard them on the one hand and government's deep appeasement of minorities on the other, are causing deep resentment amongst the majority community.
 
Sir, some of the Indian rulers seem to have set out to achieve the goals that the tyrannical Muslim invaders could not i.e., the death and destruction of Hindu India. It is also ironic that the systematic campaign to demolish Hindu religion in India should progressively continue while the Hindu India popularly known as "Hindustan" is ruled by a Muslim President, a Christian Parliamentary and UPA Leader, a Sikh Prime Minister and Christian Chief Ministers whose own religions are assault free and therefore, they do not have sufficient incentives or need to intervene. Nonetheless, should they continue their utter disregard and indifference towards enforcing the principles of secularism in defense of the majority community's religion when they are at the top positions, such inaction would have the potential of triggering a massive backlash.
 
It is a matter of serious concern that central and state governments have joined hands and launched an unprecedented assault on the founding and functional pillars of the national majority's religious heritage, because only the despotic, dictatorial, autocratic, colonial, imperialist, and inhuman regimes could act this way. Violation of majority's  freedom for managing its places of religious worship and continuing intrusion and imposition of  governmental dictates in an otherwise  autonomous domain, will justify the charge against the state of being anti- Hindu and anti-national for shackling and debilitating Hinduism -a faith that is the single most important unifying factor in India's body politic.
 
Hon'ble President, it is a matter of national shame that India boasting to be the largest secular democracy deprives its own majority community the human right for religious freedom. In view of the serious concerns on the future of temples by sale of endowment lands, may we request that the AP Govt. be directed: a) to freeze all sales of endowment properties and lands till their reversion to the community and to rescind the earlier sale of half of the lands;  b)  to modify the 1987 Act  in order to denationalize and allow autonomy of all Hindu temples in the state as is the case for other religious institutions, and enabling formation of a Hindu Board to oversee temples management; and c) .to co-opt a Hindu Council , nominated by Hindu organizations like Dharma Sansad and Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha for guidance of endowment department till denationalization to avoid such unconscionable and unconstitutional acts that will cause further resentment and inflame communal tensions.
 
Thanking for your time and requesting for your immediate intervention
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Dr. Jagan Kaul                                       March 21, 2006   
Krishan Bhatnagar
Hindu Jagran Forum (Maryland, USA)
email: krishan.kb@verizon.net
===================================================
 
Attachment A
Temple lands ready for sale
Deccan Chronicle
 http://www.deccan.com/

 Rajahmundry, March 14: The Endowments department will be going for an  open auction of its lands to the tune of 3,000 acre from April to June  in East Godavari district to safeguard temple lands and improve its  sources of revenue. Addressing a meeting of officials here on Tuesday,  Endowments assistant commissioner B. Venkatasw-amy said that they had  auctioned 50 per cent temple lands in the district, raising revenue to  the tune of Rs 2 crore, based on the Supreme Court's judgement with
regard to the Tenancy Act especially for the State.

 He directed the temple officials to make efforts on a war footing to  auction the remaining 50 per cent lands in the next three months and  said that they could fulfil the ideals of donors by doing so. He asked  the officials to give exemption to farmers who had taken about 2.5  acre land on lease in delta areas and those who had taken five acre of  land on lease in upland areas as they were landless poor. He directed  them to carry out open auction of lands which did not fall under these  categories.

 He asked them to maintain a property register without fail.  He warned of stern action against the officials if they resort to any  lapses while auctioning temple lands. Referring to the two bomb blasts
at Varanasi recently, he asked executive officers to maintain strict  security at temples by appointing security guards to keep round the  clock vigil. He advised them to take police help to ensure safety to
 devotees, especially at important temples in the district.
=================================================
 
 Attachment B
Hindu temples' disintegration under AP Govt. Control
 
 Under the Chief Ministership of Dr. Samuel Reddy, who seems to see the Hindu shrines through the prism of his personal faith, the pace of de- Hinduisation, desecration and demolition of Hindu religious infrastructure has accelerated .  The government, though trustees,  never give out the  financial and management reports mandated under norms of trusteeship to the owners of properties i.e . Hindu community. Politicians and bureaucrats consider the revenues and properties as discretionary.
 
Here is a sketchy description of the control of Hindu temples and religious endowments by AP state government, based on very infrequent media reports.  This shows gross mismanagement and making their urgent reversion to community governance imperative for survival.
 
There is reportedly: a)  a proposal under consideration for allowing the construction of a church atop "Tirumala"; and b) a proposal for a ropeway at Tirumala to convert the deeply religious place into a tourist hot spot, rather than preserving and enhancing its religious and cultural character, required of trustees . Any diversion of revenues, major changes in physical  structures, sale/ transfer of lands and properties e.g. the proposal for land for a Church atop Tirumala, religious practices or major projects like the "Master Plan" at TTD must take place only upon the approval by the community.
 
Mr. Dharma Reddy, the special officer, AP claims that only 10 1/3 Square miles of land belong to the Mandir and is administered by the TTD. The statement which is influenced by some religious and commercial interests is totally unacceptable to Hindus, who for sure know that the entire Seven Hills is the sacred land of Hindus. The government must take note of it and declare without any ambiguity that the entire Seven Hills is sacred and belongs to Bhagawan Venkateshwara Mandir and that NO structure of any other religion could be allowed to encroach upon of the Seven Hills. Any violation of this reality could be a source of an unending conflict like the Babri structure.
 
The unforgivable and unforgettable destruction of centuries old historic Mandapam at TTD (Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam) with official participation is a stark reminder of a deep malaise - the unwarranted government interference in Hindu places of worship. Due to the aggressive anti-Hindu policy pursued by the Govt. there is faster disintegration and de- Hinduisation of Hindu religious infrastructure in AP. To further improve their political fortunes the Naxals are unlawfully distributing the temple lands. The massive land scam in Hathiramji Mutt at Tirumala, and the infamous demolition of 1000 pillar mandapam at Tirumala represent the multiple strategies for inflicting irreparable injury upon Hinduism. And then there is the most indefensible, serious and controversial issue of siphoning the temple revenues and disposing off the temple lands. Furthermore, the government of AP has yet to reimburse 28 crores of rupees to the endowment department towards the value of the temple lands illegally acquired earlier for bus terminals, police stations, etc. reported in media a couple of years ago.  

 

There also prevail serious charges that 85% of temple revenues are illegally transferred to the state exchequer for funding a ministry with 77,000 bureaucrats to supposedly manage 33,000 temples while leaving many pujaris starving. Recently, AP Govt. ensured the entry of JRG Wealth Management Limited, an organization owned by Christians into the decision making and procurement process of "Prasadam" materials for use in Tirupati temple. And govt. controlled temple management has also brought in a tie- up of the TTD owned Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences with a missionary hospital. Placing the members of the competing religions at the center of Hindu religious decision making adds insult to the injury. How would Christians and Muslims like it if their religious decision making was processed and formalized through Hindu hands?

 

Recently there was a report of TTD executive officer, appointed by the state, barring hundreds of Sadhus from having a "darshan" of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirupati. How can the Sadhus, who have given up everything for spiritual pursuit afford to pay for the darshan? This is a gross insult to Hindus, who deeply revere them.
 
And then there is the issue of  safeguarding of religious artifacts, allegedly stolen or clandestinely sold. No one seems to care or be accountable!
 
==========================================

 Attachment C1

 

Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution

 

Right to Freedom of Religion


25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.—
 
(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law—
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

Explanation I.—The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.
Explanation II.—In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

26. Freedom to manage religious affairs.—Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right—
(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
(d) to administer such property in accordance with law.

==================================================

 

    Attachment C2
 
Article 246 of the Indian Constitution and the Concurrent List containing religious endowments and religious Institutions that empower the states to legislate such institutions:
 

 246. Subject-matter of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything in clauses (2) and (3), Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List I in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the "Union List").

 (2) Notwithstanding anything in clause (3), Parliament, and, subject to clause (1), the Legislature of any State also, have power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List III in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the "Concurrent List").

 (3) Subject to clauses (1) and (2), the Legislature of any State has exclusive power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List II in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the "State List"').

(4) Parliament has power to make laws with respect to any matter for any part of the territory of  India not included in a State notwithstanding that such matter is a matter enumerated in the State List.
  

SEVENTH SCHEDULE              

(Article 246)

 

List III—Concurrent List

.....................

28. Charities and charitable institutions, charitable and religious endowments and religious institutions.

http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/welcome.html

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