Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad will celebrate Diwali at the Teri Temple in Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Monday to express solidarity with the local members of the Hindu community as well as pilgrims reaching the shrine from other parts of the country, Dawn reported.
The grand function is being organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), which invited Justice Ahmed and other dignitaries to take part in the celebrations. The Hindu council will also host a large number of pilgrims from Sindh and Balochistan, the report added.
PHC patron-in-chief and member of the National Assembly Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said the presence of senior officials during the celebration would give a strong message to the miscreants that their nefarious designs would be foiled by the state.
To provide facilities to those arriving from Sindh and Balochistan to participate in the annual fair at Teri, the Hindu council has also requested the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to provide boarding and lodging facilities to around 1,500 pilgrims at Hassanabdal, the report said.
The pilgrims have already started arriving at Hassanabdal, from where they will proceed to the Teri area of Karak on Monday and return the same day.
The shrine is associated to a saint, Shri Param Hans Ji Maharaj, in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where a temple was established in 1920.
However, it was vandalised by a mob led by a local cleric belonging to the Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl last year.
Later, on the orders of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, not only the temple/shrine was restored to its original condition by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, but the apex court also ordered the ptovincial government in October 2021 to recover 33 million PKR from the culprits involved in vandalising and destruction of the century-old Samadhi, the report said.
On December 30, 2020, more than 1,000 people led by some local clerics belonging to the JUI-F instigated the villagers to demolish the temple as a result people led by local seminary students attacked the temple.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the incident and during the proceedings the court was informed by then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Sanaullah Abbasi that a local leader of the JUI-F, Maulana Faizullah, had organised the protest near the shrine but of the six religious leaders present at the protest site, only Maulvi Sharif had incited the crowd to desecrate the temple, the report said.
The court was apprised that 109 people involved in the incident had been arrested soon after destruction.
Earlier in 1997, the Samadhi was first attacked and severely damaged, and PHC head Vankwani had approached the apex court in 2015 seeking help to restore the holy place and restart the annual pilgrimage to the place.
“At that time, local clerics were creating hurdles to holding of religious congregation for the Hindus, while the followers of Shri Paramhans Ji tried to build the temple at the place but it was not allowed,” Vankwani had told Dawn.
The Supreme Court had issued directives to the provincial government to restore and preserve the Teri temple at that time, too.
Finally, Pakistan Hindu Council started holding the annual fair in 2015.
Since the temple/shrine was being managed by the local Hindu families, it comes administratively under the KP government and not under the ETPB control.