ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved a grant of Rs100 million for the construction of the first Hindu temple in the capital.
The request for the grant of the amount was made to the prime minister by Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri during a meeting with the prime minister.
The meeting was also attended by a delegation of MNAs belonging to religious minorities including Lal Chand Malhi, Dr Ramesh Vankwani, Jai Prakash Ukrani, Shunila Ruth and James Thomas.
The delegation discussed the issues faced by religious minorities and lauded the efforts of civil and armed forces in crushing the terrorist networks across the country who had been targeting people of other faiths as part of their extremist agenda.
The delegation sought the support of the government for the construction of first temple in the capital. The prime minister gave verbal approval.
The minister for religious affairs told Dawn that the summary in this regard had already been sent to the PM Secretariat.
“We will pursue the matter with the PM Secretariat and it is expected that it will be signed next week,” the minister said.
As per the official procedure, the copy of approval will be sent to the finance ministry for allocation of grant while construction work will be executed by Pak-PWD.
Meanwhile, Lal Chand Malhi said the Hindu population in Islamabad had reached to around 3,000, which included government employees, private sector employees, members of the business community and a large number of doctors.
“While the official formalities are underway, we have decided to continue the initial ground works including the levelling of the land and erecting the boundary wall,” Mr Malhi added.
Hindu Panchayat Islamabad will manage the Shri Krishna Mandir. The Panchayat’s president, Mahesh Chaudhry, said a large number of people from various parts of the country, including Balochistan and Sindh, had shifted to Islamabad, mainly due to insecurity in those areas.
“Now when we have families here, there is a need for a crematorium, a place for collective prayers and marriage ceremonies,” Mr Chaudhry said, adding that “currently, we hold Holi and Diwali functions in government’s community halls or marquee.”
Though there will be a place for Hindus to exercise their rituals in the near future, to solemnise marriage is legally not possible in Islamabad as there are no officially notified rules and regulations regarding Hindu Marriage Law 2017, even three years after the law was enacted.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020