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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Hindu seers protest I-T notices, write to FM Sitharaman

The Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti is up in arms over the I-T notices served to saints and seers for money that they never received. The Samiti has threatened an agitation if action was not taken against officials responsible for the notices.

The Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti is a joint platform of different akharas and mutts (monasteries) of Sanatan Hindu Dharma. According to the Samiti, income tax department notices have reportedly been served to 13 akharas of Hindu Dharma and all the major monasteries of Tirtharaj Prayagraj recently.

The Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti termed the notices as a conspiracy to defame Sanatan Hindu Dharma and humiliate Hindu Dharmacharyas. The Samiti has written to union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman demanding action against the officials who served the notice.

Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati, general secretary, Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti, told reporters, “Certain work was done by the joint efforts of the state government and centre during Kumbh 2019, in Prayagraj, so that pilgrims may live there comfortably. At that time, the UP government had done some work in 13 akharas and major mutts to add facilities to ensure comfortable living to the pilgrims during their visit to the Kumbh. The Jal Nigam was the executing agency for this work and the UP government or centre provided the fund for it.”

He said that the akharas and seers had nothing to do with that fund. They did not get any funds for that work in their bank accounts. He said that despite that, the income tax department served a notice to the 13 akharas and major mutts and seers for the fund which they never got.

Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati said that through the notice, the seers have been asked to be present in person and give a clarification. “As an Indian citizen, it is our duty to give an account of the fund which we receive. But how can seers give an account of the fund which they never received?” he asked.

He claimed this was sheer ‘humiliation’ of the seers and a “conspiracy” to defame Hindu Dharma and that there was anger in the seer community.

“The Samiti has written a letter to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, demanding action against the officials concerned. If action is not taken against the officials who issued the notice, the seer community will take to the streets,” he said.

Hindu religious institutions are the only ones controlled and taxed by government under the HRCE Act, while religious institutions of ‘minority’ community are exempt from such control. The control of temples by the secular state has severely dented Hindu capacity to preserve and propagate Dharma, and deprived Hindu institutions from funding religious and social charitable works.

* In the state of Karnataka, for instance, where Hindu temples have to contribute 5% of their gross annual income to a “common pool fund.” (Source)

Many Hindus are now waking up to this institutionalized discrimination they face, and some religious leaders like Sadhguru have launched a #FreeHinduTemples campaign. While Hindu pujaris, priests and preachers are deprived of funds and religious training, all governments are busy giving doles to clerics of other religions.

(With IANS inputs)

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