The seven-member expert committee constituted by the Karnataka government to examine the demand for a separate religion tag for Lingayats has recommended that the community should be given a ‘religious minority’ status.
In a 200-page report submitted to the Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC) has said that it recommends ‘religious minority’ status to Lingayats. It concluded that there is enough evidence to differentiate Lingayat religion from Hindu religion and also adds that Veerashaivas, another sect looking to gain religious minority status too can be part of the larger umbrella of ‘Lingayat religion’, as per a report by The Hindu.
In 2017, a series of rallies in North Karnataka demanding an independent religion status to Lingayats pushed the state government to consider the issue by referring the matter to the State Minorities Commission.
Eventually, a seven-member expert committee was formed to study five separate demands, three of which were for a separate minority religion status for Lingayats, one representation stating that the Lingayat community members are Hindus and the other demanding minority religion tag for the Veerashaiva-Lingayat sect.
The members of the committee included political scientist Muzaffar Assadi, former Chairman of the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission CS Dwarakanath, head of the Kannada Chair at JNU, Purushothama Bilimale, Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority SG Siddaramaiah and senior journalist Sarjoo Katkar.
While the committee first met in January and sought six months to examine the issue, it suggested that it could recommend a separate religion for Lingayats.
The panel headed by former Karnataka High Court judge HN Nagamohan Das, made the suggestion that the community’s plea is justified.
However, a case related to the issue in the High Court of Karnataka will be heard on March 9 and a final decision will be taken on the issue.