Two Decades of Turmoil Damage 208 Temples in Valley: Govt

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Valley Temples Illegally Occupied, Some in wrong Hands: Tickoo

Srinagar – The government on Thursday said, 208 temples have suffered damages during the 20 years’ of turmoil in Kashmir Valley. However, it said, no temple land has been encroached by anyone.

In response to a question of BJP leader, Chaman Lal Gupta, the minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation said number of temples in Kashmir Valley were 436. “Out of 436 temples 226 are intact while as 208 have suffered damages over the years,” the minister said.

South Kashmir district of Anantnag has 128 temples, which highest in Kashmir Valley.

The minister said over 1200 kanals (one kanal=0.8 acre) were under temples in the Valley.

However, Kashmir Pandit Sangarash Samithi (KPSS), an organisation of Valley based Kashmiri pandits, said that the government has given incorrect figures to the Assembly.

“It is fact no temple has been occupied in Kashmir Valley but over 50,000 kanals of temple land is under occupation of different people. Also different religious organisations including Sanathan Dharam and others have leased out temple land illegally to the people,” Sanjay Tickoo, President KPSS said. He said 550 temples have suffered damage in past 20 years.

KPSS has been demanding to the government to hand over all religious places of the community to Kashmiri pandits living in the Valley.

The community is pressing to the Legislative House to pass Kashmiri Pandits Temples and Shrine Bill. “If the temples and shrines of the minority community of the Valley are handed to the locals by virtue of the temple bill, the controversy will automatically come to an end,” Tickoo said.

The KPSS have been agitating for enacting the law on the pattern of AWQAF board, which manages Muslim religious places, and Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, which manages Sikh Gurudhwaras and shrines.

Tickoo said some elements managing these temples along with revenue officials were indulging in selling temples and other immovable property of pandit community.

“Our demand is whatever temple land has been leased out by the managing bodies of these temples since 1990, should be declared null and void. And all temples of Kashmir Valley should come under management of Kashmiri pandits,” he said.

He alleged as per details available with the KPSS, about 150 illegal sales of temple land and other property were done with the help of politicians, revenue officials and other individuals.

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