Senior Congress leader Dr Karan Singh—who is also the Chairman Trustee of Dharmath Trust—Wednesday warned Kashmiri Pandits "not to indulge in affairs of temples and shrines under the Trust."
"We are surprised to see that many KPs have made it a business to be part of temples and shrines under Dharmath Trust. We strongly condemn such an approach," Dr Singh, according to his close aide, has said. "Take the case of Hariparbat temple where a self-styled group of KPs is collecting donation which, according to our information, goes to Jammu. This attitude is not tolerable. Hariparbat temple was constructed by MahrajaPratap Singh in 1920 and is a Dharmath Trust property."
He said KPs who claim to be "only Hindus in the country" should "not poke their nose in affairs of temples and shrines under the Trust."
On the shrine bill, he said the law, if passed by the State legislature, "won't be applicable for temples and shrines under Dharmath Trust. The trust is there for the past many decades and is an administrative body. Dr Karan is the Chairman of the Trust and has even contributed from his pocket to keep alive the temples and shrines across Kashmir."
Meanwhile President of the Trust, Major General (Retd) R S Jamwal, said it was unfortunate that a section of KP community has "once again raised the bogey of Hindu shrines in the Valley."
"The shrines located in Kashmir can by no stretch of imagination be considered the property of Kashmiri Pandits," Jamwal said in a statement. "After the exodus, the Kashmiri Pandit community represented a small minority in the Valley and it was the Dharmarth Trust that fulfilled the responsibility of managing these great shrines."
He said after 1990, Kashmiri Pandit community "virtually disappeared from the Valley and it is to the credit of Dharmarth Trust that they ensured that every temple under their management remained safe and operative during this period."
Jamwal said the distinction being made between Kashmiri Hindus and other Hindus is "pernicious and unconstitutional".
He said Kashmiri Pandits have neither the organisation nor resources to manage these temples. "The Dharmarth Trust as well as other Hindu trusts in the Valley, including the Sanatan Dharam Sabha, the Arya Samaj, the Srichand Chinar, the AdiGuzar and the Dashnami Akhada are functioning efficiently and effectively," he said. "The experience of the shrines actually managed by the Kashmiri Pandit community, with rare exceptions, has been disastrous. We urge that they abandon this negative and hostile attitude and in fact support various Hindu trusts that are functioning in the Valley."
He said several Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been pressing for passage of Temple and Shrines Bill to "recover religious property in ruins" and handing over of all such temples as part of their "ancestral property".
"Attempts by a section of Kashmiri Pandits who are living securely in Dogra heartland to vilify Karan Singh and Dharmarth Trust are highly condemnable and will be counterproductive for the community," Jamwal said.
Pertinently, Chairman, Premnath Bhat Memorial Trust Arjan Nath had recently alleged that people like Singh do not want Temple and Shrines Bill to be passed because "if it happens, he will lose his main source of income."