SIT to probe unauthorized leasing and usage of temple properties in Kashmir

Srinagar, Apr 7: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been directed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to investigate the unauthorized leasing and usage of temple properties in the Kashmir region.

Aadil Fareed, Assistant Commissioner under the Divisional Commissioner, has written to all deputy commissioners in Kashmir, quoting a communication received from the LG’s office.

The letter requests the deputy commissioners to “identify any cases of illegal leasing of temple properties in your district and take appropriate action under the rules while keeping this office informed. Additionally, please provide an updated inventory of Religious Minority Properties (such as temples, Gurdwaras, and others) to this office within one week.”

A Kashmiri Pandit organization had earlier alleged that defunct trust members and some government employees have illegally sold or leased out temple properties in Kashmir.

Against this backdrop, LG Manoj Sinha ordered SIT to probe into the illegal lease of temple properties and the nexus therein.

Satish Mahaldar, Chairman JK Peace Forum said that the successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir took no initiative to protect the religious properties of Pandits.

“Despite repeated court orders, temple properties have been illegally given on lease,” he said accusing Revenue Department of failing to safeguard the temple properties.

Satish Mahaldar said that Government departments are among the offenders while nearly 25 kanals of temple land at Kohni-Khan Dalgate that was under the custody of the Deputy Commissioner’s office had been sold illegally. Similarly, the shrine at Gundo Nowroze, Anantnag, has been illegally occupied by the Education Department. The Shiv Temple on the premises of the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution office, Srinagar, has been encroached upon and a shop constructed near the gate,” he claimed and added that Durga Nag land has been leased and rented out to over 170 tenants.

At Bishambar Dass Temple in Barbarshah, over 17 kanals of land have been sold illegally and a hotel is coming up on that land. He said that a small temple opposite Gurudwara has been converted into Dhaba. knt

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