JAMMU, Feb 22: Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust (PNBMT) today said that the Shrine Bill for the protection, preservation and management of the temples and shrines in Kashmir is the consensus demand of Exiled Kashmiris. The Government should enact the Shrine Bill as the first measure to assure the exiled community that it is sincere in its rehabilitation and return to the Valley. This was the consensus demand raised of the Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust during its special meeting held at Badshah Kalandar Ashram, Patoli here.
Among others the meeting was attended by Dr A N Pandita, Dr B L Handoo, Dr R L Bhat, M M Thaplo, Pradeep Koul, A K Raina, Vijay Kashkari, Shiban Khaibri, Sundri Lal Koul, Shadi Lal Koul, M L Ganjoo, K L Bhat. The speakers at the meeting noted that the State Legislature had passed half a dozen bills creating shrine boards for various temples in Jammu Division, over the past few years but no action has been taken in regard to the Shrine Bill, though the pressing need for enactment of the Bill for protection and preservation of the temple in the trouble torn Kashmir has been admitted by all parties in general and BJP and PDP, the parties in the ruling coalition. in particular. Most of the shrines in Jammu have been put under nominated boards, while the Shrine Bill did not give the management of the temples to the government and envisages a democratically elected body to look after the temples of Kashmir.
PNBMT meet also noted that while the Government is holding out great promises of return and rehabilitation, it is not paying attention to the practical aspects of the situation. Shrine Bill is a measure to ensure the protection of the most sacred legacy of Kashmir. Shrine Bill is also the means to show that the Government intends to walk the talk on building the confidence of the exiled community. While the need for immediate protection of the temples in Kashmir is mouthed by all, few steps are being taken in this direction. It said last year the Government withdrew the protection force from all the shrines. The police pickets at different shrines were not restored when the situation turned normal in the Autumn last year. This was one of the basic demands raised by the delegation of the Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust when it met the Chief Minister last month. CM had specifically assured the delegation that the police protection of the Shrines would be restored immediately. Chief Minister was kind enough to get the point noted, yet no action seems to have been taken to date. Today the shrines are lying unprotected, it added.