ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday to take necessary measures for reconstruction and preservation of a Hindu temple in Karak district – an issue that has evolved into a battle of ego between minority members and a local religious leader.
The directive was issued by a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, which had taken up the matter of implementation of a set of guidelines handed down in a June 19, 2014 judgment on minority rights.
On Feb 16, Pakistan Hindu Council’s patron-in-chief Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani brought to the apex court’s notice repeated incidents of desecration of Hindu temples in the country and the Samadhi of Shri Parm Hans Ji Maharaj in Teri village of Karak district being in possession of an influential cleric.
Dr Vankwani, a PML-N MNA from Tharparkar, said the local community acknowledged the right of the Hindu community over the temple, but the cleric was resisting it and opposing reconstruction of the temple.
“We have even requested the KP inspector general and the area commissioner to allow us to build boundary walls around the temple to save the premises from further desecration,” he said.
According to a letter written by the then deputy commissioner of Karak to the deputy secretary (judicial) of home department, Peshawar, in Feb last year and submitted to the Supreme Court, the temple was constructed at a place in Teri village where Shri Parm Hans Ji died and was buried in 1919.
His followers used to visit the place to pay their respects and this practice continued till 1997 when some fanatics dismantled the temple. The followers attempted to build the Mandir at the place allegedly occupied by a local influential, despite the fact that the property belongs to the Auqaf department for being an evacuee property.
Realising the conflict, Hindu elders from Sindh intervened and tried to negotiate privately and even paid Rs375,000 as cost of the land in 1997. But despite getting the money from then minority MPA Gian Chand, the cleric refused to vacate the property.
Hindu leaders led by the MPA had also met then KP chief minister to solicit his support for getting the land vacated and renovating the shrine, but to no avail.
Several meetings were also held between Ulema led by notable cleric Maulana Muhammad Sharif and Hindu elders from Sindh, but the Maulana, who had great influence in tehsil Banda Daud Shah, was in no mood to let the Hindus get their rights, the letter said.
A fresh report by the Kohat deputy commissioner submitted to the apex court on Wednesday said that in accordance with the court’s directive, a meeting of local Ulema was held on Feb 15 in Banda Daud Shah. The meeting presided over by Maulana Mohammad Sharif was attended by 72 to 75 Ulema. It decided that a committee of Ulema would meet JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and inform him about the resentment of Muslims over the reconstruction of the temple, the report said. But the Ulema did not give any date for the meeting with Maulana Fazl. The meeting also decided that in the wake of the current law and order situation because of terrorism, no permission could be granted for the reconstruction of the temple.
The report said that in view of these decisions and lack of interest by the Ulema in resolving the issue and implementing the Supreme Court order, it was suggested that another meeting be convened to evolve a strategy that should also include deployment of security personnel to meet any eventuality for implementing the court order.
Published in Dawn March 12th , 2015