[GHHF] Letter to Chief Minister Sri Jagan Mohan Reddy: Don’t Meddle in Hindu Temples and don’t Exploit Hindu Dharma
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation
14726 Harmony Lane, Frisco Texas USA 75035;
Door # 19-41-S3-1406/16; KBR Brindavanam; Sumanth Home,
Kaikala Cheruvu, Tirupati, Chittoor District, AP 517 501
September 5, 2019
TO: Honorable Sri Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy
Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
Dear Sri Jagan Mohan Reddy Garu:
Subject: Don’t Meddle in Hindu Temples and Hinduism; Address our Concerns Honestly and truthfully
“It is the duty of all to support and side with Dharma. All must fight and support Dharma regardless of their personality, background, status.” Swami Vivekananda
On behalf of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF), I feel it is my privilege to applaud and congratulate your bold, appropriate and timely decision to announce that non-Hindus will not be allowed employment at Sri Venkateswara Temple and all the Temples it manages. We are also glad to know that those who have converted to Hinduism will be allowed to stay in the job while others will be removed.
Chief Secretary Sri LV Subrahmanyam said that non-Hindus “can't continue with the job and will not be given an important post because it will hurt the sentiments of Hindus." Those converted employees should leave their jobs immediately. He also announced that surprise checks will be conducted at the homes of employees to verify whether they are Hindus or non-Hindus.
GHHF earnestly request the government to follow the principle that state and religion are separate and should not be mixed. The government should not interfere with religious institutions. Government has no authority to sell the lands, tamper with the rituals, and divert funds for other purposes. Government is only a custodian, not the owner of Hindu Temples. Many government officials think that the Hindu Temples are the government property. Let us pay close attention to GO No 298 dated 18-08-2015 which states as follows: “Hindu temples and their properties are not Government properties. These temples have never been constructed by the Government with taxpayer’s money. They were built only by Hindu philanthropists, Mutts, Peethams, Zamindars, etc. since ancient times. Government is only acting as a sacred trustee of temple property and has brought the Endowment Act permitting itself to administer the Hindu temples for the benefit of Hindu society. Hence, under no circumstances, Hindu temples can be treated as Government property.”
With this backdrop, GHHF wants to request the government to follow certain principles, ethic, and dharma. Hence the following list is prepared for your serious consideration to preserve the integrity of Hindu Temples and their sacredness.
GHHF requests the Government to Ponder and Implement.
- Please help us understand the basis used to even consider distributing Hindu Temple lands to landless in the state. The circular by Dr. Manmohan Singh does not even mention considering the lands of other faiths, that of your faith of Christianity or of Islam. Based on many reports, just Catholic church alone is the biggest owner of non-agricultural land in India. We request you to use the power of your faith to identify excess or wastelands of various church denominations in the state and convince them to distribute their lands to the landless poor. Under any circumstances, Temple lands should not be sold or distributed or used for government purpose which were already misused by various governments in the state for last few decades.
- Temple lands are not the property of the government. It is the property donated by our forefathers with a vision to protect Hindu Temples for their maintenance.
Dr Manmohan Singh sent a memo to “All District Collectors” on 04.07.2019, saying that Honorable Chief Minister wishes to distribute 25 lakh house sites to landless poor. He asked them to identify the lands village-wise including “Endowment lands, which the temples / the choultries are willing to auction with the permission of Hon’ble High Court.” When you say Temples/choultries willing to auction, it raises several questions. It is understood that the Temple Boards will have to decide whether to sell or not. Since these Temple Boards are appointed by the government, they can be forced to accept the government request and may be forced, directly or indirectly, to identify the land for auction.
If the Temple lands are taken by the government, it is tantamount to closing the Temples with sinister intention. The lands are their future guarantee for their continued functioning of the Hindu Temples.
- On 30-08-2019, Rc.No.M2 of Endowments Department stated that the Temple lands should not be taken forcibly for house sites. But, “The proposals to take Endowment land will be considered by the District Authorities only when the Executive Officers/Trustees/Archakas give the proposals for sale of unused and waste lands, after due consultation at the temple level.”
Executive Officers are appointed by the government. They are there only to please the present government. They only execute what is decided by the government. This is not the way to submit proposals. If no Hindu leaders or organizations are not allowed to express their views, the decision to sell any property will be considered an attack on Hindu Temples and Hindus.
The memo also mentioned that proposals will be considered “after due consultation at the Temple level.” We all know that all Temple level personnel are appointed by the government. How many of them will have the courage, guts and even knowledge about Hindu Temples to express their wishes against the government’s interest?
If they are really independent and express their views, they will be transferred overnight and bring only those who listened to the government. We can give many examples to testify to this fact.
We request you to immediately scrap this idea of acquiring Temple lands whether they are not in use or wastelands. Who is going to determine which land is waste? There is no such thing as wasteland. It is because of the government's indifferent attitude toward Hindus and Hindu Temples, these lands were not allowed to be used. The lands that are not being used due to raucous government policy; one cannot define them as wastelands.
- The government should not pay the salaries for the Imams, Mullahs, and Pastors when Government is not taking the funds of their worship places unlike Hindu Temples. Given that there is little accountability to the crores of rupees taken from Hindu temples, this amounts to indirectly making Hindu devotees pay for Pastor and Imam salaries, particularly when the State is starved for funds. It is best to strictlymaintain the integrity of religious institutions and not mix it with the treasury of the state or favor certain religions.
- In a recent announcement, it was announced the government will reserve 50% positions for SCs, BCs, and STs in the Trusts and Boards of the Temples. Unless a GO is issued by saying only Hindu minorities will be appointed, many non-Hindus may be appointed to maintain Hindu Temples. We request you to clarify and make sure that an announcement is made to the effect that only Hindus will be appointed.
- Please make sure that non-Hindus are not employed in any of the Hindu Temples managed by the State. Develop a mechanism to identify them,and either ask them to leave or transfer them to other jobs.
- As the Chief Secretary said that a coordination committee / Vigilance Committeeshould be appointed to check the working of non-Hindus in temples and to oversee the strict implementation of government orders about non-Hindus working at different levels in any of the Hindu Temples.
- If an employee of a Hindu Templewould not honestly report his religion and found him to be lying, he should be immediately removed from his job. Also, criminal action should be taken against this employee for lying, deceiving the government, tampering the sacredness of the Temple, and hurting the sentiments of Hindus.
- Non-Hindus should not be allowed to operate either shops or lease vacant lands. No contracts should be given to non-Hindus to procure materials either for puja items, prasadam items, or decoration items. No contracts for the construction of the buildings and flyovers, or pavement of the roads.
- When the Sneha Lata was caught going to Church in TTD vehicle, controversy erupted. Following the outrage from Hindu community, TTD identified 44 non-Hindus. Endowment Department wanted to transfer them to other departments. The high court gave a stay order in February 2018.
We request you to take up this issue at the High Court and see that the Stay Order is lifted.
- The Government should investigate and find out how many acres of Temple lands have been used by the government or distributed to others. This report should be made public and see what course of action should be taken to replace these lands for those respective Temples.
- The government should also look at the landholdings of Christians and Muslims. A cursory look reveals that the Catholic Churches alone have more lands than all the Temple lands put together. Why their lands cannot be taken to distribute to landless poor?
Christians own more lands only next to the Government of India. Chief Minister should take all the lands he needs from CHRISTIANS and distribute housing sites. But unfortunately, there is no oversight of Church holdings, they are a state within a state. Their allegiance is only to Pope in Rome, not to the Indian government. Government after the government did not even bother to look at their holdings and see how they can help the landless poor.
- Investigations must be conducted to find out how many Hindu Temple lands are encroached by others and see how we can recover those lands. Any structure built on these lands should be demolished and use that land for Hindu Temples purpose only.
- Government over the years have sold thousands of acres below the market value. Following a full investigation, we should recover the full price from them or recover those lands for the Temples.
- All Hindu Temples must keep a record of all Jewelry and other valuables. Periodic verification should be conducted to make sure they remain intact. In the case of missing jewelry, the person responsible for managing these valuable should be accounted for. Strict enforcement of the law to remove him from the position and initiate criminal proceedings against these individuals.If there are no punitive actions against these individuals, it is very difficult to keep track of these valuables and properly accounted for. Fear of consequences will prevent the missing of the jewelry.
- Hindu Temple money should not be used to support the activities of other religions such as Hajj pilgrimage and Jerusalem pilgrimage. How is it justified to fund their pilgrimage?
- Hindu Temple money should not be used for secular activities, for the construction of roads, highways, flyovers, etc. It should be used for renovation, maintenance of other needy Temples, priest salaries and building more Temples in Dalit communities,
- Punitive actions must be specified to all the Endowment Officials for their neglect in enforcing the government guidelines in operating the Hindu Temples and in monitoring the employment of non-Hindus at Hindu Temples.
- We sincerely hope that you would not announce schemes without examining the consequences of these schemes to the welfare of the state. For example, your announcement to distribute 25 lakh housing sites to landless poor is unfortunate and without any consideration for the viability of the state. Not knowing where the land is available, one should not announce these schemes for the sake of appeasement.
As you are aware that Article 26 of the Constitution of India guarantees every religious denomination the right to their religious affair.
GHHF requests you to address the concerns we expressed to see that the Hindus are not treated unfairly, Hindu Temples are not managed by non-Hindus, Hindu Temple lands are not taken over by the government as an excuse to distribute to poor, Temple Boards or Trusts are not filled by non-Hindu SCs, STs, and BCs, divert Hindu Temple money for other religions and punitive actions are developed to prosecute Government officials who deliberately defy the guidelines.
Prakasarao V Velagapudi PhD
Copy: Sri L V Subramanyam, Chief Secretary
Sri Vellampalli Srinivas, Minister for Endowments
Sri Manmohan Singh, Principal Secretary
Smt. R. Padma IAS Endowments Commissioner
Sri Y V Subba Reddy, Chairman TTD
Sri Anil Kumar Singhal IAS, EO, TTD