Hindu group presses secretary of state for action on Capitol monuments | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hindu group presses secretary of state for action on Capitol monuments

Posted By on Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 4:50 PM

click to enlarge RAJAN ZED: Wants monument at Capitol.
  • RAJAN ZED: Wants monument at Capitol.
A Hindu group that wants to erect a statue on state Capitol grounds — given the state law that has cleared the way for a Christian-motivated monument to the 10 Commandments planned there — is urging an early meeting of the commission that reviews proposals for Capitol grounds monuments.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said it is time to move things along as well as time for Secretary of State Mark Martin to disclose submissions for Capitol statuary. He said Martin's office has declined to do so. Martin would be compelled to do so by the Freedom of Information Act if the request were made by a state citizen.

From the news release, it would appear Martin's office is throwing the responsibility for action, or inaction, on the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. The secretary of state, however, heads the commission. The slow-walking of requests to the group (experienced earlier by a Satanist group, and deferral to the legislature, as Martin has done before, will become an issue when — inevitably — a lawsuit is filed over a Capitol grounds open to a Christian monument, but not those of other faiths.

The Hindu group's news release:

Hindus are urging for an early meeting of Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, chaired by Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, to discuss various submissions received for erecting monuments on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock and decide the future course of action.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, said that since it was Commission’s responsibility to determine the next steps in the process, it would be better if the Commission met at an early date and clarified the process further so that they and other submittters of requests for monuments on the Capitol grounds could start working towards fundraising, designing, construction, etc., of the monuments.

Meanwhile, Arkansas Secretary of State office has declined to list the various submissions. Kelly Boyd, Chief Deputy Secretary of State, responding to Zed's request to Martin on submissions received, wrote:…until we are confident all submissions regarding this issue are in hand, we decline to list the various submissions at this time. However, based upon conversations or correspondence with the various entities interested in making a submission, I feel we are approaching a time all submissions have been received by this office.

Regarding Rajan Zed's query about calling a meeting to review their submission for "permission to erect a privately funded statue of Lord Hanuman" and other submissions, Boyd wrote:...there is no meeting scheduled at this time.

Responding to Zed's question of “What are the next steps in the process?”, Boyd wrote:...It is the Commission's responsibility to determine what the next steps might be, if any, during the course of their discussion of a particular submission or group of submissions.

Hindus have sent a formal request to Martin for “permission to erect a privately funded statue of Lord Hanuman in Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock”, to be constructed, designed and paid for by private funds at no expense to the state. “If permitted, we plan to make it big and weather-proof. Lord Hanuman is greatly revered and worshipped in Hinduism”, Rajan Zed added in the request.

Meanwhile, in a remarkable interfaith gesture, religious leaders of diverse traditions—Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, etc.—have supported the request of Hindus to erect a statue of Hindu deity Hanuman in Arkansas Capitol grounds.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reportedly signed into law a bill on April eight, 2015; allowing a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on Arkansas Capitol grounds.

The Arkansas State Capitol, constructed between 1899 and 1915, already has multiple monuments on its grounds.

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