ISLAMABAD, June 15: The Foreign Office on Thursday moved swiftly to set the record straight on media reports claiming that the Krishna Mandir in Lahore had been demolished.

Terming such reports incorrect and baseless, the Foreign Office said in a statement issued here: “Contrary to the alleged demolition, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has made considerable improvements in a number of Mandirs, including the Krishna Mandir in Lahore and the Sadhu Bela Shrine in Sukkur etc. at a cost of Rs13.8 million during the last three years.”

It said: “The only Krishna Mandir that exists in Lahore is safe and the temple referred to in a section of the press is not the Krishna Mandir but an abandoned property being used partly as residential and commercial since the time of independence, says a clarification of the ETPB.”

The Foreign Office pointed out that the two locations were several kilometres apart. “Krishna Mandir is situated on the Ravi Road, whereas the property under reference is in Rang Mahal,” it said, adding: “As no Mandir exists at the site, therefore, the question of its demolition does not arise.”

The Foreign Office maintained that a Mandir in Lahore’s Wachhowali Bazaar in the same vicinity at property no. C-1275, about 300 feet from the property under reference, was also in intact. “Its surrounding property is being used for residential purpose by 35 occupants of the ETPB since the independence of Pakistan,” it said.

Jawed Naqvi adds from New Delhi: India has taken up with Pakistan the issue of the temple in Lahore after it was reported to have been cleared for demolition, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

The official reaction to the reports came a day after Hindutva leaders “condemned the demolition” of the temple.

“Yes, we have seen media reports of the demolition of Krishna Mandir and the matter has been taken up with Pakistani authorities,” the spokesman said in response to a question.

Updated Jun 16, 2006 12:00am

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