Hon’ble Prime Minister,
Dear Prime Minister
September 11, 2011
India is a secular country but the Government of India and provincial Governments under the Congress Party or other political parties have been targeting only Hindu temples for government takeover in name of better management leaving aside all mosques and churches as if there is no complaint against the latter two. Singling out only Hindu temples for government takeover is discriminatory, violates principles of secularism, and, deprives the Hindu community of their constitutional rights [Articles 25 and 26] to manage their own religious affairs.
2. How could officers of a secular government manage religious institutions of any community, it is a self-contradictory proposition. Due to government takeover, persons with no devotion and no deep knowledge about Hinduism, and even non-Hindus and communists who have nothing to do with any religion land up in governing bodies of Hindu temples. As non-Hindu officers too become Chief Secretaries of State governments on their merits situations may arise and have arisenwhen non-Hindus lord over management of Hindu temples through government controlled boards.
For example in the Board of Trustees of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple there are at least seven officers of the UP Government in ex-officio capacity who need not always be Hindus so we may even find Muslim and Christian officers sitting on the Board of trustees of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. So we may have beef eating officials sitting on boards of Hindu temples hurting religious feelings of millions of Hindus. No non-Hindu and no Marxist should be allowed to sit in governing bodies of Hindu temples as government nominee.
3. Well known Hindu temples including those at Puri, Tirupati, Guruvayoor, Kashi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Vaishno Devi, Mumbai (Shree Siddhi Vinayak Temple), Shirdi, Amarnath, Srisailam, Madurai and Rameshwaram etc are already under government’s control and plans are afoot to grab more temples. State takeovers have resulted in bureaucratic lethargy, gross mismanagement and embezzlement of temple funds, closure of many smaller temples, encroachments, sale and alienation of temple lands, and dismantling of temple infra-structure which is causing resentment among Hindus.
3.1 Many State governments are not using the income from Hindu temples exclusively for the cause of temples and Hindu religion, and , keep diverting temple earnings into general budgets and misusing temple earnings for non-Hindu purposes leaving many Hindu temples into dilapidated conditions and doing very little for benefits of Hindu pilgrims who offer donations to temples.For example annual earnings of the Tirupathi temple is over Rs 3500 crores but only about 15% of this amount is reported to be spent on this temple and rest i.e. about Rs 3000 crore is diverted every year by the State government of Andhra Pradesh to non-Hindu purposes leaving Hindu priests poorly paid and Hindu pilgrims poorly looked after in terms of travel infrastructure, medical, hostel, food service facilities etc.
This fund among others should have been used to give better salaries to all Hindu priests attached to temple or freelance.
We regularly get reports that so many hundreds of Hindu pilgrims died in stampede here in this temple or there in that temple because of infra-structural deficiencies.
It is reported that Andhra Pradesh government headed by late YS Rajsekhar Reddy [a Christian] brought Christian institutions into the decision making body of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) and its institutions. JRG Wealth Management, a Christian organisation was employed for ‘Prasadam’ materials for use in Tirupati temple. So, beef eaters are/were handling ‘prasadam’ materials of the Tirupathi Temple. It is shocking and objectionable.
And in 2006, the centuries old, 1,000 pillar Mandapam in Tirumala complex is reported to have been demolished by the Congress Government.
In several districts of Andhra Pradesh, thousands and thousands of acres of land owned by government controlled temples have been sold, alienated, gifted and permitted to be grabbed by land grabbers though the government has no right to do so since it is not the owner of temple lands, it is only temporary custodian. It is reported that only 18% of other temple earnings are released by the AP Government for temples and the remaining 82 per cent is diverted to non-Hindu purposes.
In Bhadrachalam and Simhachalam, hundreds of acres of temple land have been given to Christian organisations. The Endowment department of AP has sold over 1,600 acres of Srisailam Temple land to various missionary organisations. And in 2005, 245 acres of prime land belonging to Seetharama Chandra Swamy temple at Devarayamjal was sold at throwaway price causing huge loss to the temple.
3.2 In Kerala, State control has rendered innumerable temples into poor state. Under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, over 12,000 acres of Guruvayoor temple’s land has been reduced to a few hundred acres only. And in Sabarimala, 2,500 acres of temple land has been sold by the government board.
3.3 In Orissa also the administration has been selling Jagannath temple endowment lands. The temple management from 1952 has been taken over by the Odisha government and the management has no elected representatives of Hindus and all are appointees of the government. In 2011-12 temple earning was expected to be Rs 59.6 crores but actual expenditure on maintenance was much less and about Rs 26 crores was added to the corpus fund of temple rising to Rs 182 crores leaving Hindu pilgrims high and dry.
3.4 In Rajasthan land and revenue of many Hindu temples have been misappropriated by government controlled bodies/functionaries.
3.5 In Jammu and Kashmir, even Mata Vaishno Devi Temple University created with the funds of Vaishno Devi Temple does not have Hindu religious studies in its curriculum.
3.6 In Karanataka, Rs. 79 crores were collected from about two lakh temples and from that, temples received only Rs seven crores for their maintenance.
3.7 Bihar government’s control over the temples through its Hindu Endowments Department has resulted in the loss of temple properties worth Rs 2,000 crores.
3.8 Annual income of the Kashi Vishwanath temple was Rs 4.9 crore in the year ending March 31, 2010 including offerings of Rs 3 crore, and, annual expenditure was Rs 72 lakh. Facilities for pilgrims are minimal. Temple fund stood at Rs 34 crores.
4. Since temples belong to Hindu society which has built and maintained them over the centuries, these must be restored to Hindu community as like other communities, Hindus too have a constitutional right to manage their places of worship. Independent boards comprising of Hindus elected by practicing Hindus alone must govern all Hindu temples and shrines as is the case with places of worship of other communities.
5. The Bharat Raksha Manch at its National Executive meeting held at Jaipur passed the following resolution among others: “The Congress Government of NarsimhaRao connived with Imams in the Supreme Court and the government advocates misrepresented the public interest before the Court with the result that about 50 lakh imams are getting their salaries and perks from the Wakf Boards funded by the Government of India right from December 1993 [AIR 1993 SC 2086]. No Muslim country in the world pays any Haj subsidy to Muslim pilgrims but the Government of India pays subsidy to the tune of Rs 800 crores a year. It is totally communal and retrograde. No priest should get salaries from the government or all priests from every religion should get”.
5. Since your government is paying salaries to all Muslim Imams through Wakf Boards it is requested that all Hindu priests too should be paid good salaries. We are going ahead to enroll Hindu priests interested in receiving salaries. We are ready to discuss issues involved with officials you may wish to nominate.
With kind regards
President, Bharat Raksha Manch
[Neither any reply nor even an acknowledgement was received to this letter.]
The ORGANISER weekly carried my article on this subject under caption “Secular Loot & Plunder of Hindu Temples”. [24 October 2011]