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State Government asks Dalit Christian and Muslim Farmers to quit Temple Lands in Andhra Pradesh

Under the new order by AP Government, Muslim and Christian farm tenants are forbidden to work the lands of Hindu temples

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Land in Andhra Pradesh (Representational Image). Image source: www.propveda.com
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  • The government only wants Hindus to cultivate temple lands
  • The order was issued in November 2015 but has now been put into action, as leases on lands need to be renewed
  • Dalits were asked for proof from Church that they are not practicing Christianity

There was an order issued in November of 2015 stating that the Andhra Pradesh government forbid Dalit Christians and Muslims from cultivating Hindu temple lands. This order is now being put into action as it is the beginning of the agricultural season when land leases get renewed. The Andhra government began taking action earlier this month. They issued notices to tenant farmers saying they needed to hand over the land immediately.

Temples in Andhra Pradesh (Representational Image). Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Temples in Andhra Pradesh (Representational Image). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Dalit tenants (those from the lowest caste system) were asked to provide paperwork from the church. This paperwork was needed as proof to show that they are not practicing Christianity. In recent times, many members of this lowest caste system have converted to Christianity. Since many of the Dalits have not changed their names, it is hard to tell who is practicing Christianity and who is not.

A senior endowments commissioner stated, “We’ve issued notices to Dalit farmers to obtain certificates from the church in accordance with the GO.” This worries some of the Dalits. They fear if they do not receive the correct paperwork from the church in time, they will lose the lease on the land, said the TOI report.

Muslims, on the other hand, were completely banned from cultivating the temple lands under the new rules.

The continuation of current land leases directly correlated with the new kharif season. Since the rules and guidelines have been changed, things will change with this kharif season. The order clearly states, “No person professing a religion other than Hinduism is entitled to obtain lease either through tender-cum-public auction or otherwise.”

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According to the TOI report, There have been different responses to this new order. Habib-ur-Rehman, a Muslim United Front member claims the order is weird, “For that matter, 80 per cent of tenants of Jumma Masjid in Guntur are non-Muslims.” Traditionally the temples in Andhra are cultivated by tenant farmers. They control nearly 3 lakh acres of the farmland; 30 percent of them are Dalits.

One example of this is the Sri Raghu Rama temple in Gollapalli in the Krishna district. There are over 1,200 acres owned by this temple, with 1,568 farmers tending to the land. Of these farmers, 199 are Muslims, 204 are SCs and five are tribals. All of these farmers have been notified by Temple authority of the changes in law.

Similarly, the tenant farmers who work the 300 acres of land of the Sri Venugopala Swamy temple are Muslims. In this case though, police authorities were brought along to help the field officers move the tenants off the land if they failed to produce the correct paperwork.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This should be looked into immediately. You cannot separate people on the basis of religion at least in the field of agriculture which is the main occupation of most of the Indians

  • Aparna Gupta

    One cannot ask anyone to leave their lands on the name of religion. This is totally non sense.

Next Story

Political Climate Accused Of Encouraging The Promotion Of Black Money

There is a third reason why people who are tracking black money should not be looking at Swiss Banks

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Political Climate Accused Of Encouraging The Promotion Of Black Money. Pixabay

Last week, the political climate was charged with accusations that the government had actually begun encouraging the promotion of black money. Prima facie, the charges seemed to have some merit in them. Swiss bank deposits from India had swelled by 50%, one of the largest increases in recent times. But the accusation was a bit uncharitable. For three specific reasons.

First, even though the percentages seem high, the total amounts involved in Indian deposits with Swiss banks are not. At CHF 1.02 billion – even after accounting for the 50% jump – the amount is significantly lower than the CHF 6.46 billion in 2006 when the UPA was in power. In fact, Indian deposits with Swiss banks had been declining for the past three years – right from 2014 when Prime Minister Modi formed his government. It was only last year that the trend was broken and Swiss deposits began climbing again.

The second reason was that Indian deposits with Swiss banks account for just 0.07% of global deposits with Swiss Banks. That is one of the lowest levels ever during the last decade, overshadowed by an even lower share of 0.05% in 2017. At such percentages, India’s deposits with Swiss Banks are not much to rant and rail about.

There is a third reason why people who are tracking black money should not be looking at Swiss Banks. True, they were the best shelter for clandestine money in the past. But Switzerland has entered into several bilateral treaties for making disclosures about bank deposits to requesting states. That includes a treaty with India to provide real-time information with regard to Indians from January 2019. Obviously, any Indian who wants to stash away black money will not do so with Swiss Banks, because he would stand exposed.

There could, thus, be one credible explanation for the quantum of deposits in Swiss Banks going up. It could be found in the government’s decision to ram through amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCRA) in March this year.

which seeks to exempt political parties from disclosing their source of funds from overseas. The courts had earlier demanded that political parties make these disclosures and the government thought it wiser to try and change the law instead. This move is now being challenged before the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional by public spirited persons like EAS Sarma. The decision of the court is still awaited. The amendment to the FCRA technically permits politically connected parties to put their money back with Swiss  Banks where it is safer than in tax havens with not-so-unblemished a banking record. If this explanation is correct, one could say that the government, in collusion with all other political parties (all have kept quiet about these amendments), are responsible for the spurt in Swiss deposits.

cartoon showing black money
Cartoon Showing Black money. Flickr

As mentioned in these columns earlier, if people want to look for black money, they should first demand a full fledged investigation into the agriculture income disclosures before the tax authorities during 2011 and 2012. What makes those disclosures horrifying is (a) they were larger than ever before; (b) the cumulative value of disclosures during the two years was a mind-boggling Rs 874 lakh crore (Rs 874 trillion); (c) the cumulative value  of disclosures was eight times India’s GVA for 2013, and almost 100 times the total tax collected in that year.

It can be found in the decision of the enforcement authorities of not auctioning off properties they have seized in the past – irrespective of whether they relate to the NSEL Scam or the politicians who are being investigated for corruption (on extremely narrow charges). Attachment of properties makes for big news, full of sound and fury. But the refusal to auction them off points to collusion.

It can be found in the files of scores of senior officials who were suspended, when fraud was discovered, and then reinstated when public memory died. It can also be found in the files that routinely get burnt in fires that take place at government offices – possibly aimed at making evidence disappear – especially when it comes to corrupt deals and land development scams.

Also read: Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

But these are things politicians do not like to talk about. Many of them are collusive partners in the generation of black money. Their silence in permitting the amendments to the FCRA is ample proof of their willingness to allow a cover-up. The rantings and ravings against Swiss Banks are, therefore, of no consequence. (IANS)