Mughal Raj is back in Bihar, and heralding the era of Islamic rule back to the state is none other than chief minister Nitish Kumar – a man who likes to be called “sushaasan babu”. Akbar had abolished the jizya tax – which was charged by Islamic invaders from Hindu subjects. Aurungzeb brought it back. Nitish Kumar should be proud of himself. He has begun mirroring Aurungzeb’s reign. The people of Bihar have been suffering at the hands of Nitish Kumar for quite some time now. This time, however, the man has snapped the chord of patience, and Hindus in the state are infuriated with the man because he has brought back the jizya regime for Hindus once again.
Hindu Temples to Now be Taxed
Temples in Bihar will now have to get themselves registered and pay taxes. Temples built by individuals in their residential premises and open for the public will also come under the ambit of this new diktat. According to a notice circulated no less than two times so far, the Bihar State Board of Religious Trust said temples constructed by private individuals on private land which are open for common people must now get themselves registered, subsequent to which they will have their ‘income’ taxed at four percent.
According to BSBRT, if a temple is situated within the boundary wall of a house and family members offer prayers there, then it will be considered a private or personal temple. However, if a temple is outside the boundary wall of a house or a house where more than one family worships and makes offerings, then it will be considered public.
The said notice derives authority from The Bihar Hindu Religious Trust Act of 1950, which provides for taxing the income of a temple. Amendments made to the Act in 2006 state that temples having donation boxes as well as seeking donations through coupons would be under the tax ambit. 4600 temples across Bihar that are run by a trust or temple attendant are registered with the BSBRT as of date.
Nitish Kumar’s Government Usurps Temples’ Land
Not only is the NDA government of Bihar led by Nitish Kumar charging jizya from Hindus, but is also usurping temple properties. Last week, the Bihar government announced that ownership of the land of temples and monasteries registered or affiliated with the Bihar State Religious Trust Board will lie with the deities of the shrines and that 30,000 acres of such temple and land will be declared public property.
In protest of the government’s move to declare temple properties public, Hindu priests and devotees are threatening to hit the streets.
It is not long before Hindus as a whole take to the streets of Bihar in protest of Nitish Kumar’s draconian policies. The man is already not being accorded a long leash by people in the state, and his move to tax temples and declare their properties public might just prove to be the last straw for people in Bihar.
The state BJP unit is speaking against Nitish Kumar’s decision to tax temples belonging to Hindus, while appeasing minorities and granting a number of privileges to their places of worship. The central leadership of the saffron party must support Bihar BJP’s decision to stand up to Nitish Kumar. If that results in the BJP-JD(U) alliance breaking up, so be it.