The Karnataka government introduced the Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill 2021 in the state assembly on Tuesday. The bill comes after the government’s decision to demolish temples in the state was heavily criticized on social media, and the opposition made it a political issue. Karnataka Finance Minister R. Ashok said today that the government introduced the bill to protect the temples. “We have to protect the institutions of all religions,” he said. However, the leader of the Karnataka Congress, NA Harris, accused the ruling BJP of misleading the people. He said they first demolished temples and now they say they will protect them. “They shouldn’t touch any religious structure. It is being done for the vote bank, not everything can be legalized. They should have had a discussion first, ”Harris said.
BJP National Secretary General CT Ravi said the decision is a welcome move. “We would have avoided some problems if it had come before … Congress is doing a drama on the subject,” he said. The Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill 2021 aims to protect illegally built religious structures in a public place.
The bill comes after Karnataka authorities began demolishing old temples in Nanjangud following a court order that sparked widespread outrage. It should be recalled that several leaders of the VHP, Hindu Jagarana Vedike and other organizations had protested against the BJP government in Mysuru opposing the demolition of the Nanjangud temples. There are reportedly more than 1,000 illegal religious structures built in public places across the state. In fact, many Karnataka ministers had urged CM BS Bommai to issue an order prohibiting demolition.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the BJP introduced the bill to avoid upsetting its central bank of votes.
“It is considered necessary to provide for the protection of religious constructions in a public place built before the start date of this Law, in order to protect community harmony and not hurt the religious feelings of the public. In addition to restricting unauthorized religious structures and constructions in public places in the future ”, reads the declaration of objects and reasons of the bill.
The bill also seeks to define both local authorities and public places. He defined local authority as local self-government constituted by state government in accordance with relevant laws and includes all statutory boards, corporations, companies, committees, etc., owned by the government, managed or controlled, reported live.
It defines Public Place as a place that belongs to the Government and includes any premises belonging to a Local Authority or a Government company.
The bill defines religious structures as those structures such as the temple, church, mosque, Gurudwara, Bodh Vihar, Majar, etc., built in a public place without the authority of law.
“Without prejudice to everything contained in any law at the moment in force or any sentence, decree or order of any court, tribunal or authority from the start date of this Law, subject to the provisions of this Law, or the rules that there they are dictated under The Government will protect the existing religious structures on the start date of this Law, in such a way subject to the conditions that are prescribed. Provided that protection is not granted, if any case related to the expulsion is pending in any court of law and in the other circumstances that are prescribed, ”says the bill.
The bill also prohibits the construction of new religious structures in a public place in the future.