Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday had ordered the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to begin the reconstruction of a 100 years old Hindu temple that was destroyed and set on fire by a mob in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last week.
After noticing the attack, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered the local authorities to appear before the court on January 5, and was directed to submit all the details to the court of all functional, non-functional temples and gurdwaras across Pakistan, Dawn newspaper reported.
A century-year-old temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district was attacked on Wednesday by the mob on December 30 previous year which was known to have a samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu religious leader. The mob included people from local clerics and supporters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party (Fazal ur Rehman group), who demolished the newly constructed work alongside the old structure.
When there was a hearing on Tuesday, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had a three-member bench meeting headed and directed to the ETBP to remove infringements from temples in Pakistan and take action against officials involved in the intrusions. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed said that the Karak incident had caused “an international embarrassment to Pakistan”.
The ETBP is a legal board of the Government of Pakistan that controls and regulates the properties which are left behind by Hindus and Sikhs when they migrated to India after the partition. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Police Chief was present at the hearing and had informed the court that nearly 109 people were involved in vandalism who have been arrested. On the other hand, 92 police officials, including the superintendent of police (SP) and deputy superintendent of police (DSP) who were on duty at that time, have been suspended. On a plea by a Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar, the Pakistan Supreme Court had taken such actions and had informed the court that the shrine was also damaged in 1997.
The bench directed that details of functional and non-functional shrines, records of disputes on EPTB lands, and a report on the performance of the EPTB chairman should be submitted to the court within two weeks. It also directed the KP branch of the EPTB to hold discussions with the provincial minorities commission, the paper said.
The chief justice said, “Your employees are doing business on the land meant for shrines. Arrest them and start the reconstruction of the temple.” “Money should be taken from Maulvi Sharif for the reconstruction of the shrine.” Justice Ahsan stated that EPTB “has the money to construct its buildings but does not have money for Hindus”.
According to official surveys and estimates, around 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan where over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.
Pakistan’s Hindu population is majorly settled in Sindh where they share culture, traditions, and language with Muslim residents. Pakistan Hindus have often complained of harassment by the extremists. After hearing about the harassment of Hindus in Pakistan, India has also lodged a protest against Pakistan over the vandalization of the temples and has demanded strict action against the responsible.