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MP Christians split over law to regulate properties

A proposed law to regulate and manage properties and institutions run by Christians across Madhya Pradesh has driven a wedge between the community.....

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Published: February 28, 2009 11:45:42 pm

A proposed law to regulate and manage properties and institutions run by Christians across Madhya Pradesh has driven a wedge between the community.

While the Catholics are against the very idea of letting the government dictate how to run their own properties,the Protestants are coming around to the view that such a law could actually benefit the community provided they are taken into confidence before formulating it.

The proposal to legislate for a body like the Waqf Board,which takes care of Muslim properties,has come from the Madhya Pradesh State Minorities Commission,and the state Government has endorsed it.

The Catholics have boycotted Anand Bernard,who represents the community on the Commission,claiming he came out with a proposal that violates the fundamental rights of the minority community. The Protestants find nothing wrong with the proposed body and have distanced themselves from the boycott call.

Anand,who was appointed by the BJP Government a-year-and-a-half ago,told The Indian Express that there was a need for transparency in the management of Christian properties because the Commission and different courts were dealing with several cases of fraudulent and illegal sales.

Given that land prices are sky-rocketing,attempts are being made to dismantle structures built on them and sell land in nexus with builders,Bernard alleged,citing cases from across the state.

According to him,most of these properties stand on land given on lease or gifted during British rule. Not every property was registered with the government after Independence,he claimed,adding land was being sold for commercial purposes,defeating the purpose for which it was given.

The commission has written to all district collectors asking details of Christian properties in their areas. Bernard said only a section of the community was opposed to the idea.

Spokesman of the Catholic Church in MP,Fr Anand Muttungal,alleged that the BJP Government was trying to interfere in the affairs of the community and take indirect control of its institutions. “If at all such a law was enacted,it should cover properties owned by Hindus and Jains also. It’s an election gimmick.” He said the properties were already registered under the Firms and Societies Act and there was no need for a new body or legislation.

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