The Lingayats seers are protesting at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday after their plea to be granted religious minority status to their sect was rejected by the Centre two days earlier. They have clashed against the police over the issue.
The protestors are demanding a minority status just like the Jains and Christians. Their representation is trying to meet lawmakers.
Amidst the protest, Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao has claimed that the Congress has nothing to do with Lingayat row. Gundu Rao's turn-about comes after DK Shivakumar and Former CM Siddaramaiah saying apologising for making the community's demand an electoral issue.
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The Centre on Monday told the Karnataka High Court that it has rejected the recommendation of the Karnataka government to grant religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva communities. It told the court that it maintains its earlier stand that it regards the communities as a part of the Hindu religion.
The Centre told the High Court that the Lingayats were treated as Hindus since the first census in 1871 following which it disposed of the pleas The additional solicitor general submitted a copy of the Centre's letter to the Karnataka government in this regard.
The Karnataka government had written to the Centre on March 23 to grant separate religious minority status to the Lingayat sect with a copy of the panels recommendations.
However, the Ministry of Minority Affairs in its letter to the state government dated November 15 said, "The demand for separate religious status by Lingayat and Veerashaiva has been considered earlier also and it was observed that Lingayat has always been classified under Hindus ever since 1871 census, the first official census in India.Those scheduled caste members professing Veerashaiva Lingayat sect would be bereft of all the benefits given to them once they are provided separate religion code other than Hindus," it said.
The Lingayat sect was founded by 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, whose belief revolved around social justice, benevolence and piety instead of orthodox rituals and castism prevailing during his time.