J&K:Temple trust supporting the sale of Historical, 300 crore worth Temple to land mafia

via http://www.thestatesman.org/page.news.php?clid=2&theme=&usrsess=1&id=190036 published on February 11, 2008

J&K temples being sold, allege Pandits
By Kavita Suri
Source:The States Man

JAMMU, Feb. 10: Kashmiri Pandits allege that the Muslim-majority government in Jammu and Kashmir is ignoring illegal sale of Hindu temples and other community properties in the state.

Less than 5,000 Kashmiri Pandits who live in the Kashmir valley say that their resistance to sale of temple properties has exposed them to threats from a very powerful land mafia. Pandits allege they have been warned against protesting, or face the consequences.

These Pandits say that despite the state government’s “verbal assurances” to protect temple properties, nothing is being done to save them. A promise to bring in legislation during the recent assembly session to prevent sale of such properties was not fulfilled. To the disappointment of Pandits, the legislature was adjourned sine dine without introduction of the bill.

The Pandits say there is more to the non-introduction of the Bill than meets the eye. They claim that powerful interests, including a land mafia, scuttled the legislation.

The ground realities in Kashmir are alarming. The Dharmarth Trust headed by Dr Karan Singh has locked up an ancient and historical temple Ram jee of Barbar Shah. This is the first time in its known history that the temple has been locked. Security forces living in the adjacent dharmashala have been told not to enter the temple precincts.

“For all these years, it was a routine with us, the few Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley, to come here every Sunday for a get-together, make prasad and distribute it among devotees. But the trust management, with the help of the state government, locked up the temple and no one has been allowed to enter for the past month,” said Mr Vijay Sas of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), Kashmir.

Pandits allege that some in the Dharmarth Trust management want to sell off the property of the temple, valued at Rs 300 crore. In fact, some of them allege that the property will be sold to an influential Muslim living in the Valley. The property located just across the Rambagh Bridge and opposite the Metrological Department is at a prime location.
Inside the huge plot of land, there is an ancient Shiva temple, said to be around 1200 years old. The lingam is said to be more than 8.5 feet high.

The KPSS filed a PIL in the Supreme Court and was asked to file a fresh case in the concerned High Court. A case is already pending in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar Wing.

“Since January 2008, another incident of sale of our religious and community property has surfaced in Kashmir. It is the sale of DAV School in Rainawari by one Roshan Lal Raina who was just a teacher in that school but turned into a broker,” said Mr Sas.
Pandits allege that the sale took place at the behest of an influential official attached to the Director-General of Police, J&K.

“KPSS has taken the legal course in the matter but we are worried,” said a displaced pandit. But they hope the court will intervene and stay the sale of temples.
“The problem is that the national media is not interested in the story while the local Muslim-majority media does not care,” said Mr Sas.

“If the government fails to bring a Bill in the ongoing session of the state Assembly to ban sale of temples and other religious properties, we will proceed on a fast unto death,” KPSS president Mr Sanjay Tickoo said.

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