Commission suggests opening of four temples for tourism

Published January 5, 2021
The Shoaib Suddle commission in its report placed before the Supreme Court on the vandalising and burning of a century-old Samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu saint in Teri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has recommended the opening of four Hindu temples for international tourism. — Reuters/file
The Shoaib Suddle commission in its report placed before the Supreme Court on the vandalising and burning of a century-old Samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu saint in Teri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has recommended the opening of four Hindu temples for international tourism. — Reuters/file

ISLAMABAD: The Shoaib Suddle commission in its report placed before the Supreme Court on the vandalising and burning of a century-old Samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu saint in Teri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has recommended the opening of four Hindu temples for international tourism.

The one-man commission report, which was placed before the apex court on Monday, a day ahead of the scheduled hearing on the burning of the Hindu temple in Teri, recommended that the four sites — Param Hans Ji Maharaj Samadhi/Mandir in Teri town of KP’s district Karak; Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Hingol National Park of Balochistan’s district Lasbela; Katas Raj complex in Punjab’s district Chakwal and Parhlad Bhagat Mandir in Punjab’s district Multan — should be provided with fool-proof security and befitting lodging and boarding arrangements similar to Sri Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur town of Punjab’s district Narowal.

The report highlighted that the devastating action by miscreants on Dec 30 in the presence of police not only hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community in particular and the minority communities in general, but also brought shame to Pakistan by tarnishing the country’s image at the international level.

Built before 1920, the temple in Teri was attacked by a large mob after local elders of a religious party in their fiery speeches at a protest demonstration demanded the removal of the temple.

SC to resume hearing of Teri temple attack case today

Taking notice of the incident, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed ordered KP’s chief secretary and the police chief as well as Dr Suddle to visit the site and submit a comprehensive report before the court by Jan 4.

The case will be taken up for hearing on Jan 5.

Dr Suddle, in his report, highlighted that the mob had also looted the available valuables from the temple after setting the site on fire but the station house officer and deputy superintendent of police concerned apparently did not take any action to control the situation.

The DSP offered the explanation that had he ordered the use of force, the situation would have gone totally out of control resulting in huge casualties and loss of life. Both the police officers were suspended by the police chief pending a thorough probe into the incident.

Probe, penalty and property

The report expressed the need of proper and thorough investigations at the earliest after gathering available evidence, including forensic evidence and call records. It suggested an in-depth investigation by the provincial government and police chief.

Moreover, Maulvi Mohammad Sharif, the principal instigator of the demolition of the temple, the report recommended, must be thoroughly interrogated to unearth any conspiracy and planning behind the gory incident. The real motive for the attack needed to be laid bare for future, it said.

The miscreants who vandalised the temple deserved exemplary punishment to create strong deterrence in future, the report suggested, while regretting the handling of the incident by police.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), in coordination with the KP government, must also take immediate measures for repossessing any illegally occupied land that belongs to the mandir as well as any other evacuee property in the country, the report said, adding the actual area of the Shri Param Hans Ji Maharaj at the time of partition should also be determined, keeping in view any tampering with the revenue or other records.

There should be a proper administrative set-up of the mandir, the report emphasised, adding that the home department must ban entry of suspected miscreants in the temple area.

The report also highlighted that the well situated within the precincts of the temple, as well as the orchard, has dried up because of lack of maintenance. The well used to fulfil the water requirements of not only the mandir but also the local inhabitants of Teri, thus rendering the water as sacred for the Hindu community.

It highlighted that the well and the historic orchard where Param Hans Ji Mahaaraj used to sit along with his Hindu disciples and Muslims of the area alike, needs to be properly rehabilitated.

The report said the Hindu community in the Teri area sho­uld enjoy all the rights as guaranteed to them by the Consti­tution without any restrictions.

It mentioned that during the meetings of the commission with the KP chief secretary, IG Police, Home Secretary, Kohat Commissioner, Kohat regional police officer, Karak deputy commissioner and Karak district police officer, the issue of visible improvement in the treatment of the minorities and its impact on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and forums such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms and the UN Office of High Commission on Human Rights was also discussed at length.

The report said the incident highlighted that more sensitization of people across Pakistan on these critical issues was required.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

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