Goa lists centuries-old temples as illegal, attracts wrath

Panaji: The Goa government has declared some of the centuries-old temples in the state as illegal in a recent survey, attracting wrath from a Hindu organisation.

The government has listed 800 structures, including 350 temples, in a list of illegal religious structures built on government land.

The list was prepared following a Supreme Court directive which asked the state to submit a report on illegal religious structures existing on government land.

However, the government's move has been criticised by a Hindu outfit.

"Even the temples, which are 500 years old, are listed as illegal structure by state government," Hindu Janajagruti Samiti's Goa unit spokesman Jayesh Thali told reporters.

While pointing out some of the temples were built well before the very system of state governance came into existence, Thali said that the state government should have taken into confidence local temple committees before declaring them as 'illegal'.

"The authorities should have known the time period in which they were built and also their significance to local population," he said.

Given that the government has listed even some mosques and churches as illegal, he said that the organisation is not averse to talk to Muslim or Catholic community to build up an organised resistance to government's plans.

However, he also observed, "As far as churches and mosques are concerned, they have their own organised set up in place which will deal with the issue. Temple committees need to unite now".

The HJS has now decided to organise a campaign to save these temples from being bulldozed and has planned a massive rally on April 22 here to make people aware about the government's 'devil-plans' to target Hindu religious structures.

Responding to a query, Thali said that HJS is open to the idea of relocating temples but felt there are some temples which cannot be relocated.