NCM questions AP on anti-Christians laws

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New Delhi, Feb 22: Taking serious note of the Christians' concern over three pieces of legislation by the Andhra Pradesh government, the National Commission for Minorities(NCM) has asked the state government to explain their constitutional validity.

The community shown its concern to a four-member team of the Commission that visited Hyderabad recently, officials told to the sources. The legislation passed by the state has put the church properties at par with those under the Hindu Endowment and the Wakf Board, without taking into account the fact that lands under the Hindu Endowment Act and the Wakf Act had been gifted by people whereas the church properties were purcahsed by the church itself.

Therefore, Christians argue that the new law was tantamount to interference in the internal affairs of the community. The legislation ostensibly seeks to curb the illegal occupation of church properties and certain irregularities connected with them.

The authorities concede that the irregularities had taken place but contend that they should be settled in courts and not by imposing a public law that places all church properties under a single umbrella.

The other law that is protested by the Christians is the one imposing a ban on non-Hindu actrivities in the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and 20 other temple towns all over the state.

The Church authorities say that there were strict provisions in the India Penal Code to deal with offenses committed in places of worship. A blanket ban on non-Hindu activities in the temple towns violates the fundamental rights of non-Hindu citizens, they argue.

Another issue agitating the Christians, and also Muslims, is a move by the state government to establish a 'Sanathan Dharma Parishad' for the propagation of Hinduism. It would have the Minister of Endowments as its chairman and senior civil servants as its office-bearers.

The communities say the move runs counter to the secular spirit of the Constitution, a view endorsed by the NCM team.


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