Bangalore: Pontiffs of various religious mutts on Wednesday stepped up their campaign staging dharna demanding ban on discourse by controversial American evangelist Benny Hinn commencing in Bangalore from Friday, but government reiterated that it cannot ban the programme.
Shantaveera Swamiji of Kolada Mutt, Kumara Chandrashekara Swamiji of Vokkaligara Mahasmsthana, Mahanta Linga Shivacharya Swamy of Vibhuthi mutt and Shivapuri Swamiji of Omark Ashram staged a dharna in front of the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of power, and presented a memorandum to the Government on their demand for immediate ban on the three-day event.
Minister for Revenue M P Prakash, who received the memorandum on behalf of Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, told the seers that under the Constitution all dharmas have the right to undertake their religious activities.
Prakash said the organisers of Hinns programme “Festival of Blessings-Pray for India” have clarified to the Government that the controversial pastor would not undertake any “divine healing”.
He said government would ensure that activities which would lead to vitiating of peace would not be permitted.
Prakash said the swamijis have urged the government to grant them permission to perform “Vishwa Shanti Yajna” at the Jakkur airfield, where the evangelist would hold his three-day programme and assured them that the plea would be considered if request was received.
In the memorandum signed by heads of 17 mutts, they demanded that the Government cancel the programme and order a judicial inquiry headed by a retired High Court judge to investigate into the antecedents and intentions of officers and people involved in encouraging this programme.
The pontiffs urged the Government not to expose “gullible people to untold hardship and allow the aerodrome area to be disturbed from its routine activities.”
They have also asked the government not to take unilateral decisions on such issues without seeking the consensus of people at large duly represented in future, apparently denouncing the states decision to allow the discourse.
The seers have exhorted the Government not to “let the communal tension soar high” by permitting such events.
Earlier this week, swamijis of several mutts held a meeting to mount pressure on the government to cancel Hinn’s programme.
Jan. 19, 2005