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Karnataka: Basavaraj Bommai govt tables bill to protect illegal temples in public places amid demolition backlash

10:35 PM Sep 21, 2021 | Shankar Raj

Bengaluru: While citizens have to run from pillar to post to get a few square feet of built-up area beyond sanctioned plat legalised, Gods in Karnataka will soon get a firm hold on land and illegal structures.

The Basavaraj Bommai government has tabled a bill in the assembly to protect unauthorised religious structures facing demolition, thumbing its nose at a Supreme Court directive.

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The bill was tabled in a tearing hurry as the BJP government had to face an embarrassing and serious backlash over the demolition of a temple in Nanjangud near Mysuru. The bill is seen by many as a damage-control exercise by the government.

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The Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill 2021 envisages providing protection to all religious structures, including temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras and other major religious constructions, in public places which have come up without the requisite sanction from competent authorities.

However, the bill aims to protect only those illegal religious structures built before the date of its enactment. It also seeks to prevent construction of illegal shrines in public places such as roads, streets, parks and playgrounds.

What needs flagging is that the Bommai cabinet approved the bill though it contravenes the 2009 Supreme Court directive to raze all places of worship in the country that have encroached on public properties.

Bommai had, last week, ordered district administrations to put on hold all plans to demolish over 6,300 religious places in the state that have encroached on public areas.

“Notwithstanding the provision of existing law or the court’s judgment, the bill enables the government to protect religious structures from demolition. It is being brought in good faith to ensure feelings of people are not hurt,” said an official from the law department. The officer said the government is committed to protecting the religious structures irrespective of pending cases against them.

Meanwhile, the cabinet decided to allow the BJP’s state unit to go ahead with reconstruction of the razed Nanjangud temple.

Also Read: Karnataka govt plans to bring anti-conversion Bill; BJP MLA claims Christian missionaries got his mother converted

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