Hindu community stopped from interfering in Karak shrine’s rebuilding

Published April 1, 2021
This file photo shows villagers standing on the roof of the shrine after setting it on fire in Karak. — Dawn
This file photo shows villagers standing on the roof of the shrine after setting it on fire in Karak. — Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday barred the Hindu community from interfering into the rebuilding the Samadhi (shrine) of Hindu Saint in Teri village in the District Karak which was vandalised by a mob on Dec 30.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also issued a direction to the Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwas (KP) to ensure that the Hindu temple was completed as early as possible.

On Jan 5, the apex court on a suo motu hearing had ordered the Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB) to reconstruct the Teri temple.

The court ordered Chief Secretary and KP Inspector General as well as Dr Shoaib Suddle – a one-man commission on minority rights --to visit the site and submit a comprehensive report before the court. On Dec 30, more than a thousand people led by some local elders of a religious party held a protest and demanded the removal of the Hindu temple and after making speeches they attacked the temple.

On Wednesday, the court issued directions when it was told that Pakistan Hindu Council Patron Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani had stopped the contractor working on the temple.

Dr Vankwani alleged that the contractor awarded the contract to rebuild the temple, lacked the required expertise.

Besides, he said, the provincial government had earmarked Rs3.5 million for the construction when it should have allocated Rs50 million.

Meanwhile, the one-man commission in its fresh report stated that in addition to a number of people, the commission met Joint Educational Adviser, National Curriculum Council Rafique Tahir to discuss the hate material and single national curriculum. He said that after addressing the directions in the earlier Supreme Court judgment on minorities, model textbooks had been developed to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance among students adding there was no material in the textbooks which may demean, humiliate or spread hatred against any religious minority.

The report, however, highlighted that it was unclear to the commission how the minority students would be excluded from learning the Islamic content especially when this had been added in the compulsory subjects and when many primary schools consisted of either one teacher or one room or both.

The one-man commission also presented a draft of the bill on the National Council for Minorities Rights (NCM) which relates to the implementation of the June 2014 Supreme Court judgment on minority rights also highlighted that at the time when the judgment was delivered, the NCM being a non-statutory body was already in existence and perhaps that was the reason why the court had opted for a new stator body.

In the opinion of the commission, what really matters is independence, autonomy and empowerment of the new body, not so much its title.

The commission requested the apex court to approve the draft for further processing by the law ministry.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2021

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