Prem Nath Bhat Memorial Trust the nodal organisation spearheading the struggle of the exiled Kashmiris for the enactment of the Shrine bill for protection , preservation and maintenance of the temples and shrines in Kashmir valley has welcomed the judgement of the Honourable High Court of Jammu and Kashmir regarding the need for the Act to regulate the religious property of Hindus in the valley. Stating this Dr. R L Bhat spokes- person of the trust and that PNBMT has made it clear in the resolution and public meeting held at Jammu and Jagti , that nothing short of a legislation , providing for a democratically elected body to look after the temples and shrines in Kashmir can prevent the loot and vandalisation of the temples in Kashmir.
PNBMT has categorically rejected the half way measures suggested by some people and outfits because such measures cannot cover the whole Hindu religious heritage in Kashmir. Besides the half-way arrangements have the potential to be misused by vested interests. Over the past few months there have been a large number of allegation and counter allegation that the temple land and endowments have been misappropriated. As the Honourable High court has pointed out the temple land are being alienated by Mahants and Managers through Leases , attorneys etc when they have no such powers to dispose of the temple lands. Often they have taken over the temple without due authorisation. Their actions are arbitrary and rarely in the interest of the holy shrines and devotees. PNBMT has documentary evidence of various managers and managements, mahants and individuals, including Dharmarth, who have sold temple land all over Kashmir Valley.
PNBMT president Dr. AN pandita expressed thankfulness to the Honourable Judges for the remarks that “there should have been an Act Rules and Regulations made there under, to provide for proper control, efficient management and regulation of the properties of the temples”. Over the past years PNBMT has completed the ground work for the identification and restoration of the temples and shrines of the valley. While leading the struggle for the enactment of the Shrine bill , The nodal organization has produced a comprehensive directory of the religious heritage of Kashmir. The work titled HINDU SHRINES OF KASHMIR by Dr R L Bhat has already been published by PNBMT. It lists 1403 holy places comprised of 975 temples and shrines and 428 sacred sites, cremation grounds , scared grooves etc. These are spread over all the ten districts of the valley. A Draft of the Shrine Bill prepared by eminent judges and jurists has also been finalized and is included in the temple directory titled HINDU SHRINES OF KASHMIR.
During these years of struggle for Shrine Bill, PNBMT has got the support of all mainstream parties PDP, BJP, NC and Congress. The demand has been endorsed by the past Chief Ministers Dr. Farooq Abdullah, late Mufti Mohammed Sayyid and Omar Abdullah. The exiled community still remembers the strong plea for the enactment of the Shrine bill made by the present CM Mahboobajii on the floor of the Assembly. The vandalisation and sale by the mahants and manager and Dharmarth, individually and in league with land mafia, is known to all. Unfortunately, the vested interests seem to have been able to stall the enactment of the shrine bill on one pretext of the other. They have created false suspicions and caused the bill to be delayed. PNBMT hopes that the clarity and concern expressed by the Honourable Court should prevail upon the powers that be and pave the way for enactment of the shrine bill, PNBMT would like to make it clear that the struggle and demand is for a democratic body, elected by all Hindu voters of the valley, which shall have jurisdiction and control of all the Temples, Shrines and religious properties of the Hindus in the Kashmir. The bill would not dislodge any sadhu or mahant but would prevent vandalisation of the temple properties. PNBMT again call up on both the coalition parties, PDP and BJP, ruling J&K state to fulfil their promises and pass the Shrine Bill at the earliest.