Maharashtra Lingayats hold protest rally, demand separate religion status

Led by 103-year-old Shivling Shivacharya Maharaj, the Mahamorcha saw the attendance of several spiritual gurus from the Lingayat community and leaders from several other states.

Maharashtra Lingayats hold protest rally, demand separate religion status
ANI photo

AURANGABAD: Days after Karnataka government granted a separate religion status to the Lingayats community in the state, the Lingayats in Maharashtra demanded a constitutional recognition for their community on Sunday.

The members of the All India Lingayat Coordination Committee in Maharashtra carried out a protest rally outside the Divisional Commissioner's office Aurangabad demanding the same.

They further demanded that the Lingayat community should be recognised nationally as a religious minority group.

Led by 103-year-old Shivling Shivacharya Maharaj, the Mahamorcha saw the attendance of several spiritual gurus from the Lingayat community and leaders from several other states.

"As long as the government doesn't grant the Lingayat an independent religion status till then morchas (rallies) such as these would continue," said Shivling Shivacharya Maharaj.

The Lingayat religion is one of the oldest religions and there are around four crores followers in Maharashtra, added the spiritual guru.

Seeking the support of people, he mentioned that the fight for recognition must go on.

National convener of Lingayat Coordination Committee, Avinash Bhosikar, along with Pradip Burande District Co-Ordination convener, Dyneshwar Kharde Appa city chief among others political parties leaders also participated in the morcha.

Later on Sunday, the delegation submitted their memorandum to Dr Purushotam Bhapakar - the Divisional Commissioner.

A seven-member Nagamohan Das committee headed by retired high court Judge H N Nagamohan Das submitted its report on March 2, 2018 and stated, "Lingayats in Karnataka may be considered as a religious minority."

On March 23, Bhosikar had said that the Maharashtra government should send in their recommendation for the constitutional recognition of Lingayat to the central government on the lines of Karnataka government.

On March 19, the Karnataka government accepted the recommendation to recognise the Lingayat community as a separate religion. The state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and okayed the religion based on the suggestions of Nagamohan Das committee. Following this, the Cabinet forwarded its recommendation to the Centre.

Earlier, a group of Lingayat seers met Siddaramaiah, urging him to implement the report of an official committee that recommended conferring a spearate religious and minority status to their community. The seers, led by Gadag-based Tontadarya Mutt's Siddalinga Swami, had also requested to recognise the Lingayats as a religious minority.

The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/ Lingayat faiths surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.

While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has demanded separate religion status, asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same, the other wants it only for Lingayats as it believes that Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

(With inputs from ANI)

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