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March 23, 2008
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March 23, 2008

Page: 31/32

Home > 2008 Issues > March 23, 2008


Dismantle Devaswom Boards-II
Enforcing atheist agenda in temples

By Ravi Varma

The so-called secular governments both at the centre and states are very particular and practical in providing more than sufficient facilities for the minority community members going on their pilgrimages in India and abroad, i.e. Mecca in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem in Israel or Vatican.

Another aspect of the secular governments?central as well as state governments?led by the Congress Party or Communist parties is that they are bent upon hurting the religious sentiments of majority Hindu community only, while carefully avoiding to do similar things which are likely to hurt the religious feelings of the organised Muslim or Christian community. In short, they deliberately show discrimination in dealing with Hindu community and minority communities in the case of their religious affairs. Even in the case of building any new Hindu temple or renovating the dilapidated old Hindu temples, the government does not generally offer any sort of material help in the form of land grant or financial assistance while they are liberally extended to construct mosques or churches in the country. As far as the Devaswom boards are concerned, they had never built any new Hindu temple during the last fifty years or more from their own funds. Even in the case of renovation of old temples under the Board, major part of the expenses are met by Hindu devotees. Precisely under the above background, it is not surprising that only less than 30 Hindu temples could be constructed including those renovated, compared to over 3000 mosques and churches erected by the pampered minority Muslim and Christian communities during the same period in Kerala alone. Had the ownership and management of Hindu temples been with Hindu community, they would have built many new Hindu temples besides renovating all the dilapidated old Hindu temples and also helped in rejuvenation of Hinduism in the state (and also in the country).

The secular government also does not care to provide sufficient amenities to Hindu pilgrims, travelling to various pilgrimage centres like Kashi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Somnath, Triveni, Rameswaram, Kanyakumari, Tirupathi and Srikrishna Temple at Guruvayoor and the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in India. In Sabarimala temple situated at hilltop in Kerala over three crore Hindu devotees assemble to worship Dharma Sastha there during the holy season every year. Still neither the secular government nor the statutory Travancore Devaswom Board has been making any proper arrangements for the ever-increasing Hindu pilgrims there, such as sufficient transport facilities, food arrangements, convenient halting places, sufficient drinking water, bathing facilities and adequate number of toilets in and around the holy Sabarimala Temple premises. Similar is the experience of Hindu pilgrims wherever they go on a pilgrimage in India whereas the local secular governments are concerned only about the collection of revenues and not about providing adequate facilities and amenities for the Hindu pilgrims.

But the so-called secular governments both at the centre and state levels are very particular and practical in providing more than sufficient facilities for the minority community members going on their pilgrimages in India and abroad, i.e. Mecca in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem in Israel or Vatican. For the sake of just about a few lakhs of Muslims going on Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, the secular government constructs or encourages Muslim trust to construct Haj Houses in important halting places of Muslim pilgrims of India. The secular government also liberally grants sufficient government land and also financial assistance for constructing Haj Houses in many halting places in the country. Besides they are provided with a huge amount of subsidies for making arrangements for their proper plane travel to Mecca, and for railway transport in India, besides medical facilities and accommodation even in Mecca. It is to be noted that according to Islamic beliefs and traditions, Muslims are expected to save sufficient amount for their once-in-lifetime Haj pilgrimage. Because of this, even the rich Islamic countries do not finance or subsidise their Haj pilgrimage. But in the secular India, these short-sighted political parties, provide minority Muslim community more facilities and subsides for their Haj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia even out of the way and also against the very practices of Islamic countries and secular commitment of the government. Compare this with the deliberate neglect in providing any amenities to crores of Hindu devotees going on their regular or occasional pilgrimages to the holy temples and sacred places even in India. The discrimination in the case of pilgrimages of majority Hindu community and minority Muslim or Christian community is simply atrocious and only breeding and promoting religious disputes and hatred between the majority community and minority communities. This is a very dangerous trend and also explosive.

When this blatant religious discrimination against the majority Hindu community was challenged in the Allahabad High Court, it asked the central government to immediately stop the subsidy and other government assistance given to Muslims for performing the Haj pilgrimage specifically stating that this administrative action of the secular democratic government is violative of the relevant provision of Indian Constitution.

It is in this context and growing animosities between Hindu community and minority Muslim and Christian communities, we seek your rational and judicial consideration on the above cited examples of blatant violation of the highly acclaimed Indian Constitution which govern the modern democratic secular socialist republic to give an unequivocal judgment about the functioning of the present secular government of Kerala.

Also we seek your sagacious judgment and appropriate direction to the secular government of Kerala whether, according to the secular principles embodied in the Constitution, the secular government should be constitutionally allowed to indulge and interfere in the purely religious affairs of any Indian community in Kerala. If so, why should the same secular government of Kerala not take over all the religious institutions of minority religious communities also and openly interfere in their religious affairs as in the case of majority community?s temples and related matters by creating another Statutory Minority Religions Board for controlling and managing mosque, churches and their related religious matters?

If not, is the secular Kerala government constitutionally justified to interfere or manage the religious affairs of Hindu community? Then secular government of Kerala should be directed to immediately hand over the ownership, management and control of Hindu temples and related religious and financial matters back to Hindu community and also direct the executive to dismiss or dismantle or wind up the existing statutory Devaswom boards in the state including Guruvayoor temple committee and Malabar Endowment Board.

It is the considered view of the senior citizens of the country especially the majority Hindu community, the Preamble, basic structure and the highly-praised provisions of Indian Constitution are a guide and reminder to the well-established and independent judiciary of the country as per the expert view of the founding fathers of the Constitution. As it is, some of the judicial judgments and constitutional interpretations by different high courts and sometime that of the Supreme Court itself make us believe that they consider the highly-praised provisions of Indian Constitution framed by legal luminaries, experienced experts in different fields and visionary statesmen of the country, are only mere platitudes and not serious matters. The independent judiciary is the watchdog of Indian Constitution and also concerned authority to properly interpret various constitutional provision for the benefit and understanding of not only the executive but also for the sake of the senior citizens of the country.

If the apex judiciary authority considers the provisions of Indian Constitution are not to be ignored as mere platitudes of the founding fathers but are serious matters and guide for the proper judicious and rational analysis before arriving at an appropriate judgment, the majority community seeks the opinion of the apex court whether the Constitution has to be strictly applied only to and binding only on majority community and not binding on minority communities. They are bound by separate law to follow even if there are constitutional provisions otherwise. Because of this non-application of Indian Constitution to the minority communities, they object to the singing of National Song, salutation to the National Flag, Common Civil Code, child marriage, bigamy and related matters which are sacred and strictly implemented or enforced in any progressive country except in a purely Islamic country. In other words when there is a serious dispute and conflict between the separate religious laws for minority communities, whether the latter is superior to the former in this secular Indian context. Unfortunately the latter is considered to be superior to the former. In short, minority rights are more sacred and superior to those of majority Hindu community and hence provisions of the Constitution are only mere platitudes of the founding fathers.


(The writer can be contacted at Aswathy, Thammanam, Kochi-32.)

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