23 July, 2014 / Ramazan 24, 1435

LAHORE, June 12: The Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) officials are believed to have concealed facts from the board chairman to obtain his ‘approval’ to allow a private developer to demolish Krishna Mandir at Wachhoowali, Rang Mahal and raise a commercial building in its place in violation of the EPTB’s own scheme for management and disposal of the urban evacuee trust properties.

According to the documents made available to Dawn, the board officials did not mention that the property being given to an influential jeweller of the area was a Hindu temple. Had the officials indicated in the official correspondence with the chairman that the property was a Hindu temple, he might have rejected the request for its transfer to the jeweller-developer for the construction of a four-storey commercial building with a basement in its place, a source in the EPTB said on Monday.

The EPTB Scheme for Management and Disposal of Urban Evacuee Trust Properties, 1977, categorically prohibits the sale or demolition of an evacuee trust property that is part of appurtenance to a shrine, a religious place or a building of historical or architectural importance.

Wachhoowali, a narrow commercial and residential lane reached through Sooha Bazar and Chhata Bazar, is to Lahore what Katas is to Pakistan because of the presence of several Hindu temples, which are managed and maintained by the EPTB. Each temple is rented out by the EPTB to several tenants for residential or commercial purposes. The demolished Krishna Mandir was the only Hindu temple in the city, which still had remnants of the worship place.

Sources in the EPTB blamed its administrator Chaudhry Javed Bashir for the razing of the temple, alleging that he was the one who deliberately concealed facts from the chairman. They said a Hindu temple in Vehari was also demolished last year for the construction of a commercial building during Mr Bashir’s posting there.

The sources said such actions would only disparage the reputation of the country in the comity of nations as an anti-minority state.

Several opposition members of the National Assembly, belonging to the PPP and the PML-N, have already moved a motion against the demolition of the temple in Wachhoowali, saying such an act could have a bearing on Pakistan’s relations with the neighbouring countries.

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