Lingayat religion: Did Karnataka government fail to follow procedure?

Bengaluru: Did the state government fail to follow the procedure in its bid to secure separate religion status for Lingayats-Veerashaivas (believers in Basava Tatva)?  The answer is 'Yes' according to those who fought for getting a similar status for the Jains.

Mr T.G. Doddamani, vice-president of Karnataka Jain Association told Deccan Chronicle that his community fought for nearly 20 years to get this demand fulfilled. The recommendation for according separate religion status came after years of research and consultation by National Commission for Minorities. The government never constituted a committee to look into this demand and entrusted this responsibility solely to the minority commission. As a formality, the proposal came from the Cabinet Sub-Committee led by then minister K Rahman Khan and the same was forwarded to the commission for  further action.

The commission, after receipt of the sub-committee proposal, held consultations with all people concerned, went through several documents supplied by various individuals/organisations to claim separate religion status for the Jain community.

After years of deliberation, the commission recommended to the then Congress led UPA government to declare Jainism as a separate religion on the lines of Buddhism, Sikkhism. The matter was also deliberated in both houses of Parliament and then during the fag end of the UPA-II term, the Jains were given separate religion status. This had given the community at least 40-45 benefits including  scholarships for students.

But, according to Mr Doddamani, the Karnataka government seems to have erred by constituting a committee under the chairmanship of a retired judge and appointing seven members. This task which was supposed to have been done by Karnataka State Minorities Commission, was entrusted to the committee which hardly had any ‘knowledge’ of the subject. Except a lone member from the minority commission, almost all others were not subject experts, he asserted. "I  feel the government committed a mistake by not referring this matter to the State Minority Commission, and appointing a panel. Secondly, the union government is most unlikely to accept the Justice Nagamohan Das Committee report on providing religion status for Lingayats-Veerashaivas (believers in Basava Tatva) as it is not an expert committee to take a call on such a sensitive matter.” 

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