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Panel on Separate Religion Status for Lingayats/Veerashaivas Seeks More Time

"We cannot complete our work in the four weeks time that the government has given us," Committee Chairman, Justice H N Nagamohan Das told reporters in Bengaluru after the meeting.

PTI

Updated:January 6, 2018, 8:24 PM IST
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Panel on Separate Religion Status for Lingayats/Veerashaivas Seeks More Time
File photo: Lingayats took out a rally in Bidar seeking an independent religion status (File photo/ Twitter/@Lingayatas)
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Bengaluru: The seven-member expert committee constituted to look into the issue of separate religion status to Veerashivas/Lingayats has sought six months time to submit its report.

The committee, which met for the fist time today,had been given four weeks time by the government to submit its report.

"We cannot complete our work in the four weeks time that the government has given us," Committee Chairman, Justice H N Nagamohan Das told reporters here after the meeting.

"This is an important issue and the committee has an important responsibility to fulfill," he said.

Das said that in order to complete the work as per law and in a scientific manner, the committee has decided to seek six months time from the government to submit the report.

Recently, the Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC), to which the state government had referred the issue, had formed a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court Judge H N Nagamohan Das, to look into the issue of separate religion status to Veerashivas/Lingayats.

With the committee seeking six months time, the issue of seperate religion status is unlikely to reach conclusion before the Karnataka assembly elections, due early this year.

The Opposition BJP has been accusing the ruling Congress of using the issue for political reasons, keeping the assembly elections in mind.

The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/ Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.

While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has demanded separate religion status,asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same, the other group wants it only for Lingayats as they believe that Veerashaiva is one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community that owes allegiance to the 12th century "social reform movement" initiated by Basaveshwara has a substantial population in Karnataka, especially in the northern parts of the state.

Pointing out that no representation has been provided for women during its constitution, the committee has also decided to give an opportunity to any interested party to submit their petitions along with documents before it.

It also said that opportunity would be provided to the petitioners for oral hearing, for which dates would be fixed during the next meeting.

Initial petitions that went to the committee included one arguing that Lingayats/Veerashaivas are Hindus, and the other by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha demanding minority religion tag for them.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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