KP govt stops illegal work on hindu temple to ensure minorities rights

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Government on Wednesday took strong notice of alleged demolition of an ancient non-functional Hindu temple at Mohallah Wangri Garan in Karimpura locality of the city and sealed the building after arresting its two tenants for carrying out illegal renovation work.

The government took the step as the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to the minorities and protection of their religious places.

“The temple is as revered for us as for the minority community and we cannot tolerate its demolition ,” KP Government spkoseman Mushtaq Ghani said while talking to APP.

He said that the provincial government had taken notice of news reports about the illegal reconstruction work, carried out by the tenants in the historic temple and directed the Deputy Commissioner Peshawar to visit the site.

“The KP government stands for the protection and preservation of worship places of minorities, historical buildings and heritage sites, and it has taken various steps for the purpose,” Ghani said.

There was no question of issuing any order by the KP government for the construction of commercial building at the site of the temple and there was no substance in reports published in a section of press about ‘secret’ demolition of the worship place in any manner.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Riaz Mehsud along with Director Archaeology Dr Abdul Samad Khan visited the site of temple and formally sealed the premises.

As soon as he got information from media in this regard, he rushed to the site and sealed the building, Dr Abdul Samad Khan said while talking to APP.

The tenants, he said, took the plea that the temple was in dilapidated condition and it was just a part of the plan for its repair and reconstruction.

Dr Abdul Samad, however, said the renovation and reconstruction work in the temple had been stopped, besides sealing off the entire building and arresting two persons.

He said it was the responsibility of government to protect historical buildings and heritage sties. He also thanked the media for highlighting the issue.

“No one is allowed even to remove a brick from the buildings of minorities worship places and the government will protect all such sites,” Dr. Abdul Samad added.

District Incharge of Evacuee Property Trust Board Asif Khan, when contacted, said the temple was non-functional. He, however, categorically declared that no one would be allowed to demolish non-functional temples.

He had also sent his team to ascertain the actual facts about the temple.

He said tenants of such buildings had to take permission from Evacuee Property Trust Board even for the reconstruction and repair of their damaged walls.

Haroon Sarabdial, a representative of the Hindu community, said all such temples, though non-functional, were revered places for Hindus.

He called for protecting such buildings and handing over their possession to the Hindu community. Haroon said he would soon approach Evacuee Property Trust Board to seek details of all revered Hindu sites in Peshawar city.

“We want to take possession of all such revered buildings and convert them into worship places, vocational centers and IT training centers,” he added.