AGRA: The Pakistan Supreme Court’s order on April 16 to restore a Hindu temple in KhyberPakhtunkhwa that was dismantled in 1997, and later occupied by a cleric, had caught headlines but few are aware that the issue has an Agra connection. The shrine was built on the samadhi of a saint ParamhansJiMaharaj, but a little-known fact is that the samadhi was moved to Agra after 1947.
The saint’s followers in the city say that the samadhi is locally known as ‘NaglaPadi’. “Thesamadhi was shifted here by Amir Chand, a devotee of ParahmansJiMaharaj soon after Partition,” said Swami Poornanand, who belongs to the saint’s lineage. He added that the shifting was done by placing the saint’s teeth and hair at NaglaPadi.
Many of the saint’s devotees in the city, enthused at the Pak HC order, have been collecting funds so that they can chip in with the temple restoration at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “We want to keep our gurudev’s memory alive in Pakistan where he passed away, and would like to contribute in whatever way we can,”said Anil Kumar Rai, a follower of the saint.
Meanwhile, speaking to TOI on phone from Pakistan, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MP of the Muslim League in Pakistan and patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, who had petitioned the apex court on the saint’s temple being occupied by a cleric, said that enough funds for the temple’s restoration would be collected from within Pakistan itself. “In 1997, when the temple was forcefully occupied by a cleric, Hindu activists in the country had collected Rs 3,75,000 and given it to the cleric to vacate the property. But even after taking the money, he refused to go which forced us to approach the court. I am happy that the SC has now given a decision in our favour. We will soon start the work of restoration. The saint’s followers in India are welcome to visit the temple once it is restored.”
Interestingly, both Hindus and Muslims worship at the saint’s shrine, and the temple was till now, being taken care of by the Muslims in the neighbourhood, according to Vankwani.