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May 20, 2001 VNN6760 Comment on this story
No Religious Status For Mathura, Vrindavan
FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
INDIA, May 20 (VNN) No religious status to Mathura, Vrindavan: Govt
LUCKNOW: The BJP-led government which swears by the name of Lord Rama has said a firm no to Lord Krishna. The government on Friday clarified in state assembly that Mathura and Vrindavan would not be given a status of religious city.
"The government cannot do it as it would be against the secular character of our constitution," said the minister of state for Urban Development Satish Mahana.
The government also refused to ban sale of liquor and mutton in the municipal limit if this twin city.
The issue was raised through a resolution by Ajay Kumar Pohia (BJP). He said Mathura and Vrindavan are religious city and the government should officially declare it so. He cited history to elaborate the religious importance of the city. Ram Swaroop Sharma (BJP) said that presence of liquor shops demean the religious importance of the city.
Cutting across the party lines Ram Tej (Samajwadi Party) said that all the religious places from Kashi to Paryag and from Neemsaar to Ayodhya should be officially get the religious city status. Laxmi Kant Vajpayee (BJP) said that Mathura and Vrindavan should get status akin to Hardwar.
The minister said that government is bound by law and it cannot declare any place religious as this may affect the religious sentiments of the people of other community. Moreover, the constitution too does not allow this, he added.
The resolution, however, was rejected by voice vote.
Some comments from scholars:
The issue of these "religious cities" seems to revolve around the call to ban meat and liquor sales in them (both of these have been prohibited in Haridwar for a long time, but my understanding is that this was by local bylaws, rather than by the UP government). At the time these bylaws were enacted, Haridwar's population was smaller and overwhelmingly Hindu, with most of the local Muslims living in Jwalapur, so there wasn't much opposition to this. Given the demographic changes there in the past 20 years, it might be a very different story today, but I don't think these bans are likely to be repealed soon. Of course, since Haridwar is now part of Uttaranchal state, the UP legislature doesn't have anything to do with it any more.
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