RAWALPINDI: Punjab government has directed divisional commissioners and regional police officers to submit reports about all worship places constructed in their respective areas without getting no-objection certificates (NOCs).

According to sources, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar while citing a special report from an intelligence agency directed the Auqaf department, home department, city district authorities and divisional police chiefs to check all worship places, including mosques, imambargahs and madressahs that have been built without getting NOCs.

The intelligence agency had prepared a report on places of worship constructed without getting NOCs and suggested to the government to direct the authorities concerned to check them.

A special committee led by the district coordination officer (DCO) issues an NOC for construction of a mosque, seminary, church, imambargah or worship places of any other religion.

According to the sources, a large number of seminaries, mosques, imambargahs and churches have been constructed without getting NOCs. However, after the directives issued by the government people have started approaching authorities concerned to get NOCs.

Under the law, NOC is necessary for construction of a seminary, imambargah or any other worship place. Before giving permission, the special committee visits the site and gets views of the local people.

According to a security official, a large number of worship places have been constructed in Adiala Road, Chakri Road and other areas of Rawalpindi.

He said special committees for checking seminaries of all schools of thought had been formed in 2015. The committees were led by an inspector rank police officer of the Counter-Terrorism Department and assisted by Special Branch, district police, representatives of traders and revenue officials.

A senior official of the district government said following the government directives, lists of worship places were being prepared for preparation of a report.However, cases of those who have applied for obtaining NOCs will be entertained, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019