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U.P. Religious bill in ‘cold storage’

The UP Religious Places Bill is yet to be withdrawn but for now it seems that it has been relegated to the cold storage. The flack it received from the second largest community of the country seems to have made it impossible to implement the Bill in the state although a UP minister had threatened to introduce a tougher bill. 

Consistent Muslim efforts to stall the infamous UP religious Places Bill have proved successful. The unending rallies, sit-ins and campaigns in the four corners of the country seem to have made the required impact over the power centres in the country. BJP vice president JP Mathur’s announcement that there are no plans to review the Bill because it has generated such an opposition, was received with caution by Muslim leaders. In fact it was a cause to rejoice as the struggle being waged by Muslims against the Bill was clearly paying off. 

Minority communities, particularly Muslims, have opposed it tooth and nail because it directly targetted them and gave district magistrates undue powers to implement its provisions. They apprehended that the state government, would implement its agenda of restricting the religious freedoms of the minorities in the guise of the Bill through district magistrates.

The absence of provision for appeal to courts in the Bill also came in for criticism from politicians and leaders of the minority communities. Under this bill, an aggrieved person can only appeal against the decision of the concerned district magistrate to the divisional commissioner, another bureaucrat, and not to a court of law.

Though several BJP leaders including Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, have said that the Bill has been sent to the ‘cold storage,’ and the government does not intend to implement it any more, Muslims have not abandoned their campaign against it. They are skeptical about the announcement as they feel that the government is not sincere in withdrawing the bill and may try to push it later. There is a lot more than meets the eye about this bill. The most glaring is the impression given that it was sent to the President for his approval while the Bill was lying all along in the home ministry. If the government is sincere, why its withdrawal is not announced officially?

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