ETPB recommends preserving, restoring temple in Moti Bazaar

Updated August 31, 2019

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Kali Mata Temple is being used for commercial purposes, the board’s report says. — AFP/File
Kali Mata Temple is being used for commercial purposes, the board’s report says. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) North Zone has recommended preserving and restoring the Kali Mata Temple in Moti Bazaar after removing shops from its premises.

A senior ETPB official told Dawn that the board’s Rawalpindi Chapter held an inquiry into the complaints of the Hindu community that Kali Mata Temple was being used for commercial purposes and it should be vacated and handed over to them for religious purposes.

He said after conducting an inquiry, the ETPB sent a report to evacuee board’s secretary with a recommendation to preserve the temple and restore its religious sanctity.

In a letter to the ETPB secretary available with Dawn, the zonal administrator requested the department to remove all shops in the temple building and allow the Hindu community to perform their rituals.

The report said brief facts related to the Kali Mata Temple are that the evacuee trust property No C-29, situated in Moti Bazaar, Rawalpindi is a trust in itself and its dome is still intact.

There are serious discrepancies in the area of the property in question since in the master file of 1985 its area has been mentioned as seven marlas and 144 square feet but in the master file printed in 2016, its area is 13 marlas and 51 square feet.

Kali Mata Temple is being used for commercial purposes, the board’s report says

As per existing rough sketch prepared by the field staff of the district office Rawalpindi, the area is almost the same as per master file entry of 2016 i.e. 13 marlas and 84 square feet. The current monthly rent is Rs2,706.

As per the old site plan, the temple with open court yard covers an area of six marla and 106 square feet.

As per official record, the said property was under the tenancy of Zakia Sultana who was running Liaquat Girls Middle School in the five rooms attached to Kali Mata Temple dome and open court yard.

In 1995, Zakia Sultana submitted an affidavit on a stamp paper, stating that she has no objection if tenancy of the said property be changed in the name of a person named Hamid Tufail.

The deputy administrator, ETPB, Rawalpindi addressed a letter to administrator (North Zone) to change the tenancy which was onward submitted to Punjab Deputy Secretary, ETPB, Lahore vide letter No 27-08-1995 and the ETPB chairman rejected the application on March 10, 1996.

Zakia Sultana handed over the temple’s possession to the ETPB, which sealed the property at that time.

The new tenant, Hamid Tufail, filed a civil suit in a court and obtained de-sealing order.

In 2000, the zonal administrator transferred the tenancy in favour of Hamid Tufail. In 2004, the tenant submitted an application to grant approval for construction of roof on hall and vacant space.

On Dec 24, 2004, Zonal Administrator, ETPB (NZ), Rawalpindi granted approval and fixed monthly rent of Rs2,000 with the direction that the tenant will only construct a roof on the vacant space and a hall without any additional construction and alteration but the tenant demolished all the rooms and changed it in shape of a big hall.

However, the tenant is still paying a rent as per old rates whereas according to the zonal administrator (NZ), the monthly rent should have been Rs7,425 while as per bill delivery register monthly rent is Rs2,706.

The monthly rent, which was to be assessed w.e.f July 1, 2006 according to revised reassessment policy of the board has not been finalised as yet.

At present, a bridal and fancy dress mini mall is being run in the temple.

The dome still exists on the spot but adjacent rooms have been merged in the hall. The temple structure has been covered with wooden sheets.

The ETPB North Zone also sought help from its head office to end the contract of the tenant for violating the terms and conditions and open it to the Hindu community where it can practice its rituals.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2019