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Monday, September 22, 2008

Tirupati gets Special Religious Zone status

Hyderabad: Special VIP darshans, a possible dress code and now the Special Religious Zone status - the Tirupati Tirumala temple has drawn as much controversy as the wealth that it invites in its coffers.

One of the most popular Hindu pilgrimage sites in the country, Tirupati and 19 other temple towns in Andhra Pradesh have a special religious status thanks to the AP government's order number 747.

And the state law - that prevents the propagation of any religion other than Hinduism within 110 kilometres from the identified temples - has left many Christian groups feeling alienated.

Says National Coordinator, Global Council for Indian Christians, C Francis, "This is worse than our anti-conversion laws."

The law was passed last month by a Congress government led by a Christian Chief Minister, YSR Reddy, but many in Andhra Pradesh feel the legislation has no place in a secular country.

People say that it is not possible to implement something like this for the government is secular and it cannot divide on the basis of religion.

Christian groups say a pastor was beaten up last week for praying in his home, 70 kilometres away from the Tirupati temple. They say the law affects not just their religious freedom, but also their right to personal liberty and freedom of movement.


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