ISLAMABAD: A simple ceremony was held to start construction of the first Hindu temple in the capital’s H-9 area on Tuesday.

The groundbreaking was performed by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi.

Speaking on the occasion, Lal Chand said there were several pre-1947 era temple structures in Islamabad and adjoining areas, including one at Saidpur Village and at the hill point overlooking the Korang River near Rawal Lake. However, they have been abandoned and not used.

“Besides, there is no crematorium in Islamabad,” Mr Lal Chand said, adding the Hindu population in Islamabad had increased significantly in two decades, therefore, the temple was necessary.

The Islamabad Hindu Panchayat has named the temple of Islamabad as Shri Krishna Mandir.

The 20,000 square feet plot in H-9/2 was allotted to Hindu Panchayat by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in 2017 on the orders of the National Commission for Human Rights.

However, construction work was delayed due to fulfillment of other formalities including the approval of the site map and documents from CDA and other relevant authorities.

The temple complex will also have a cremation sit, apart from the space for separate structures for other religious rites.

MNA Lal Chand said Muslims in India were being prevented from going to mosques but here we are building a temple, which proves the accommodative policy of Pakistan.

Senior members of Hindu Panchayat Pritam Das, Mahesh Chaudhary, Ashok Kumar, Chaman Lal and others thanked the Ministry of Religious Affairs for its cooperation.

Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri assured the Hindu Panchayat that the government would bear the cost of the construction which is currently estimated at Rs100 million.

A senior official of the ministry told Dawn that the minister had already taken up the matter of special grant for the temple with the prime minister.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020