Islamabad : The government of Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has begun reconstruction of a century-old Hindu temple occupied and destroyed by Islamic militants in 1997, Hindu groups say.
The reconstruction and preservation work on the Samadhi temple, dedicated to the Hindu saint Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj, in Karak was ordered by the Supreme Court.
According to the Express Tribune daily newspaper, provincial law officer Waqar Ahmad Khan told the court on Tuesday that a long-standing dispute over rebuilding had finally been resolved.
Construction of the temple is being allowed after certain conditions were accepted by local leaders of both the Hindu and Muslim communities after lengthy meetings.
The conditions state that the Hindu community will not preach their religion, will only offer prayers at the temple and not hold large-scale religious gatherings.
Other conditions are that the Hindus are not allowed to construct any large-scale prayer buildings on the site, are prohibited from buying more land in the area and that all activities take place within the compound of the temple.
“Our first priority and demand has been to ensure the preservation and reconstruction of the Samadhi temple,” Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council [PHC], told ucanews.com.
“We welcome the reconstruction of the temple, though the conditions set by the local clerics are too harsh and unconstitutional,” Kumar said. “We have agreed to these conditions as we don’t want to provide authorities with any excuses at this stage.”
Pakistan’s constitution guarantees religious freedom for minorities.
“Authorities wanted us to stop reconstruction on the pretext of upcoming local government elections in the province, but we refused,” Kumar said. “I am planning to visit the shrine in a few days to oversee construction work.”
The PHC chief lauded the Supreme Court of Pakistan for fulfilling the longstanding demands of Hindus.
The Samadhi temple was built in 1919 as a shrine to Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj. His followers made annual pilgrimages to the temple until 1997, when Muslim militants destroyed the temple and occupied the land.
Source : UCANIndia