The latest news about the long-running battle between the Government of Kazakhstan and ISKCON’s “Krishna Society” has just come in: the Government now wants to allot devotees only one hectare of land as compensation for the forty-eight hectares they confiscated and the twenty-six homes they demolished back in late 2006.
In its most recent correspondence with the Kazakhstan government, the Krishna Society requested that it be allowed to keep just fifteen hectares of its original forty-eight hectare plot.
In response to this appeal, national, provincial and district authorities of the Kazakhstan government established a State Commission on November 15th to resolve the issue.
Members of the Commission visited the current ISKCON farm, which presently occupies the fifteen hectares the Krishna Society requests it be allotted. This includes a small building which is currently used as the place of worship, a barn for keeping cows, a field for growing cattle feed, an apple orchard planted by the society, and vegetable and flower gardens.
These facilities have been created and maintained by the Krishna Society for the past ten years and involved great financial and human resources. However, when officials arrived to observe and measure the lands occupied by the Society, they measured only the exact area of the temple building and barn—approximately one hectare.
One month with no communication from the Government followed. Finally on December 11th Mr. Tulesov, a Deputy Chairman of the National Religious Committee, met with ISKCON leaders to announce the Commission’s decision. He showed them plans of the one hectare area including only the temple building and barn, and completely cutting off all facilities for the cows and agriculture.
Despite all the previous agreements regarding land for cows and for the construction of a new temple complex, it was all that the government had decided to allot the Society.
The government no longer intends to entertain the idea of allotting land for cows, said Mr. Tulesov. Instead, it wants to divide ISKCON’s fifteen hectares into small plots to be given to needy persons in the local Karasai District.
ISKCON’s leaders knew from past experience that this was an unlikely story, and told Mr. Tulesov as much. The government had made the same claim when it confiscated ISKCON-owned land before, yet rather than being given to poor citizens of the Karasai District, this land is now owned and being developed by rich Almaty City dwellers.
Mr. Tulesov conveyed to the government ISKCON’s disapproval of its decision. The government’s response came on December 15th: The Krishna Society should either accept the one hectare of land, or vacate from the property.
This is a familiar repetition of the Krishna Society’s struggle over the past four years since the Kazakh government destroyed twenty-six practioners’ homes and confiscated forty-eight hectares of legally registered property. The land was transferred to the land reserve of the Kazakh government for resale, and the Krishna followers who had been left homeless were never given humanitarian aid or compensation.
And so, the battle continues.
[ kazakhstan ]