Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pakistan opens doors to 160-year-old Hindu temple

Published: September 22, 2011
Community can use site for worship but will not be given control of the property. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

PESHAWAR:Despite the fact that they probably will not be given control of the property, the Hindu community in Peshawar rejoiced at the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) orders to reopen a 160-year-old Hindu temple.

On September 15, after hearing a Hindu woman Phool Vatte’s plea, a two-member bench of the PHC directed the authorities to open up the historic Goraknath Temple, situated in the centre of the city’s archeological complex of Gor Kattri, for worship. The court also directed authorities to ensure security arrangements at the place of worship, adding that the control of the property would remain with the government.

However, nearly a week after the PHC’s orders, the shrine which has remained closed since partition is yet to be opened.

The temple belonged to Vatte’s husband Pandit Kambhu Ram, who at the time of partition sent an application to the settlement commissioner saying he would not shift to India and would stay in Pakistan and that his land should not be made waqf property, following which an order was issued by the settlement department, Vatte’s attorney Pervez Iqbal told The Express Tribune.

However, he said that the police later asked Vatte for permission to use the temple and its adjacent building for storing explosives, which she granted but had to struggle to regain its possession in 2002. Soon after, the police detained her son Kaka Ram and the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) locked up the premises.
Pervez alleged that the police took away statues worth millions of rupees, a table estimated to be around Rs10.5 million and gold embellishments from the dome. He said that in 2003 they moved the Peshawar High Court with a petition which was rejected, after which they turned to civil court, where their case was rejected once again and they were told to approach the Evacuee Property Board (EVP). They were unable to go to the EVP due to financial constraints.

“Instead, what we did was,  we wrote an application to the Supreme Court chief justice, the PHC chief justice and other functionaries which was when the PHC chief justice turned the application into a petition on a suo motu and allowed for worship to be carried out at the temple,” Pervez said.

The temple is an archeological site and hence, its control cannot be handed over to a private party, Dr Abdul Samad, consultant to the K-P Department of Archeology told The Express Tribune. The Hindu community can perform their worship anytime. However, the keys will not be handed over to them, he added.

No comments:

Post a Comment