ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court proposed on Tuesday that a renowned architect be employed to rebuild a Hindu temple in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as had been done in case of a temple in Shahalmi Market of Lahore a few years ago.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja asked the PML-N MNA from Tharparkar, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, KP Home Secretary Arbab Mohammad Arif and Karak Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shoaib Jadoon to sit together and come up with a plan to rebuild the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi in Teri village of Karak.
Take a look: Footprints: A saint without a shrine
The chief justice said that the order must not be defied and should be implemented at all cost. Mr Jadoon assured the court that its earlier order about restoration of the temple had been carried out and a boundary wall had been built around it.
The DC submitted photographs to substantiate his claim.
“We have also given a right of way to reach the Samadhi through the house of Maulvi Iftikharuddin who was earlier in possession of the temple,” the DC explained.
But the court declared that the efforts put in by the provincial administration were not enough and proposed construction of a new building instead of just erecting boundary walls.
The surrounding walls will spoil the area, observed the chief justice, recalling how a temple in Shahalmi Market, Lahore, was reconstructed by architect Kamil Khan, who had a clear understanding of architectural heritage and had provided free consultancy to rebuild the temple.
The chief justice said the court could ask the architect to conserve the Karak temple. The next hearing has been scheduled for Sept 7.
When Justice Dost Mohammad Khan inquired about the cost of the reconstruction work, the DC replied that the cost was estimated at around Rs550,000 but the provincial government had earmarked Rs2 million under the annual development plan.
Mufti Iftikharuddin who appeared before the court submitted an application with a request to make him a party in the case since he was the lawful owner of the property. The house in which he resides belongs to the Evacuee Property Trust but was occupied by his father, late Mufti Chiragh Din in 1950.
On April 16, the apex court had ordered the KP government to restore and rebuild the temple, whose preservation has led to a rift between the minority community and local religious leaders.
The shrine and temple were built at the place where a Hindu notable, Shri Paramhans, died in 1919 and was buried. His followers visited the temple frequently till 1997 to pay respects but some fanatics dismantled the temple.
Followers of Shri Paramhans tried to rebuild the temple but the land was allegedly under occupation of a local mufti, Iftikharuddin.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2015