“DMK manifesto Page 112...People occupying encroached temple lands will be regularised and ownership transferred. Page 85...Encroached Waqf properties will be reclaimed and handed over to Wakf,” tweeted academic and Bharatiya Janata Party supporter Madhu Kishwar on March 21. Her message has garnered over 6,000 retweets already.

The Tamil Nadu based Dravida Munnetra Kazagham launched its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on March 19, in which it announced a slew of promises. Kishwar has insinuated discrimination against the majority community in the party manifesto, claiming that Pages 85 and 112 of the manifesto suggest that while encroached Waqf properties will be reclaimed and handed over to the Waqf board.

The Waqf board advises the government on how to administer land and other charitable donations made to Islamic institutions. Members are appointed by the government.

But in the case of encroachment of temple lands, ownership would be transferred to the encroachers by regularising them, the academic claimed.

Manifesto says otherwise

A copy of the DMK manifesto is available on the party’s website. Alt News accessed the English version of the manifesto and found that the entire manifesto is merely 76 pages. There are no pages 85 and 112.

This was reiterated by the spokesperson of DMK via Twitter.

Further, Alt News found no reference to either the Waqf board or encroachment of temple lands anywhere in the manifesto. The only section dealing with religious matters is the concluding section of the manifesto titled “Protection of religions and religious harmony” on page 69.

Reference to Waqf board and temple lands in 2016 manifesto

Alt News found that the reference to protection of Waqf board properties and temple lands was incorporated in the party manifesto of 2016, ahead of the assembly election in Tamil Nadu. Under the section “Welfare of Minorities” on Page 84, it says, Properties of Waqf Board will be recovered from encroachments and protected.”

Insofar as the question of protection of temple lands is concerned, under the section”Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department” on page 111, the manifesto clearly spells out,
“Besides regulating and collecting rent to be received by the temple trust from temple lands, a Land Bank will be established for protecting vacant land belonging to temples. Moreover, a high level committee led by a retired judge will be constituted for considering the demand of the people, who are offering to purchase the temple land within the legal framework.”

The 2016 manifesto of the DMK referred to protecting both Waqf properties and temple lands.

This article first appeared on Alt News.