Rajasekhara Reddy retracts on sale of temple land
New turn to land scam
By Vinod Kumar
The Endowment lands scandal took a new turn on June 3 when the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, issued orders for immediate cancellation of the sales of all temple lands effected by I. Venkateswarlu during his period as Endowments Commissioner.
The cancellation covers the sale of the lands belonging to not only Shri Sitarama Swamy and Shri Venugopala Swamy temples, near Hyderabad, but also those all over the State. Dr. Reddy suspended the operation of whatever orders issued by Shri Ven-kateswarlu using his powers under Section 89 of the Hindu Charitable & Religious Institutions Act or other top officials in the Secretariat, including J. P. Murthy, previously Principal Secretary, Revenue, which facilitated such sales.
Following agitation by Hindu seers and a representation made by a BJP delegation pleading against alienation of the temple lands, the Chief Minister also announced his decision to keep in abeyance until further orders the process of regularising the encroachments of temple lands as per the government order issued by the Telugu Desam Government earlier. It covered the lands of the Simhachalam temple also.
During the discussions with the delegation consisting of B. Dattatreya and U. Krishnam Raju, both former Union Ministers, K. Lakshman, B. Bal Reddy, and S. V. Seshagiri Rao, the Chief Minister was stated to have taken a serious note of the role played by the IAS officers in the latest muddle, especially Shri Murthy, by issuing an order annulling an earlier order prohibiting registration of sales of temple lands.
Hindu seers came together to free the temples and other religious bodies from unnecessary governmental interference. The movement of the seers was prompted by the government'sreported proposal to sell away endowment lands.
A crackdown by the Government on the matter is expected because the Chief Minister told the delegation that he had just received the report from the Anti-Corruption Bureau and that he would take appropriate decisions after a high-level meeting on the issue in two days.
He said his steps would be such that not a single square foot of land would be lost.
Hindu seers came together to free the temples and other religious bodies from unnecessary governmental interference. The movement of the seers was prompted by the government'sreported proposal to sell away endowment lands. Sachidananda Saraswathi of the Dharmapuri Peetham, Swaroopanandendra of the Visakha Sri Sarada Peetham, Vidyaranya Bharati of Humpi, Praka-sanandendra and Sarvavidhanandendra of Arsha Vidya Peetham held discussions recently to evolve means to protect temple lands.
They had decided to conduct an ?Akhila Andhra Sadhu Sadassu? on June 18 in Hyderabad to generate public opinion on the issue. The seers from other States were also to support the cause. The core demand of the seers is freedom for the temples from State control. ?When the government has no control over church and Wakf properties, why should it have total authority over Hindu temple lands?? asked Swaroopanandra.
The seers had come together after reports appeared that the government was planning to set up committees to identify temple lands and fix rates for sale. The Commissioner of Endowments had also issued orders for the sale of 54 acres of temple lands in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts.