Bengaluru (DHNS): Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim has said that a trivial issue over printing his name in the invitation for the temple car festival has been politicised by local leaders.
In a press statement issued on Thursday, Ibrahim has said that his name was in the invite as per the protocol and not as per the Endowment Act. He said that it was not the first time that a non-Hindu DC’s name was printed in the invitation for the festivals of Hindu muzrai temples. However, in order to ensure that the car festival is conducted peacefully, the additional deputy commissioner and the temple administrator among others had been directed to supervise the conduct of the event.
The 800-year-old Mahalingeshwara temple is under the control of Muzrai department. Lakhs of devotees take part in the annual car festival of the deity which is held from April 10 to April 20. The temple generates a revenue of more than Rs one crore per annum.
This year, the BJP and several Hindu organisations had taken serious exception to printing the name of Ibrahim in the invite for the car festival. They had claimed that the Hindu Religious and Endowment Act does not allow a non-Hindu to be a muzrai officer. But, a deputy commissioner, by virtue of his office, becomes the muzrai officer. A writ petition had been filed in the High Court challenging printing of Ibrahim’s name in the invite.
When contacted by this newspaper on Friday, Ibrahim said, “Going by the protocol, I have not committed any mistake. I had recently disqualified 7 Puttur municipality members under the anti-defection law. This and internal rivalry in political parties have led to blowing a trivial issue out of proportion,” he said. He added that the issue had nothing to do with rituals.
Puttur MLA Shakuntala Shetty (Congress)?said that it was good that the matter had seen a logical end. “The difference between protocol and law should be clear to avoid such controversies.” she added.
Rajesh Bannur, a resident of Puttur, who is closely associated with the temple, said a muzrai officer would have to take part in many rituals and receive prasada during the car festival. “In the last 60 years, the DC’s name had been printed on the invite only once. But he was a Hindu. Now, a needless controversy has been created by the government,” he added.
‘Govt can’t meddle in matters of faith’
Former advocate general Ashok Haranahalli said that one cannot go by protocol alone because a non-Hindu cannot head Hindu temples despite being muzrai officer.
He said the Legislative Assembly Speaker was recently heard directing the government to amend the relevant law to manage Hindu temples.
“A non-Hindu cannot head a Hindu temple. Similarly, a non-Christian and a non-Muslim cannot head a church and mosque respectively. The government cannot interfere in issues related to faith. Anybody can enter a Hindu temple. But muzrai temples have to be managed by Hindus. Government can only appoint priests but it cannot have a say in rituals,” he said.
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