The Pakistan Supreme Court has directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government to start the immediate rebuilding of a Hindu temple which was set on fire by a mob in December 2020.
On December 30, 2020, an unruly crowd set fire to the Samadhi of Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj located in Karak district’s Teri area after more than a thousand people led by some local elders of a religious party held a protest and demanded the removal of the temple, originally built before 1920.
Last month, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had announced reconstruction of the temple, as well as a crackdown against the attackers.
During the hearing on Monday, a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed also directed the province to submit a timeline for the shrine’s completion, The Express Tribune reported.
Ikram Chaudhry, lawyer for the Evacuee Trust Property Board which maintains Hindu and Sikh places of worship in Pakistan, apprised the bench that no recovery has been made so far on the temple issue.
“The government had approved 30.41 million PKR for the reconstruction of the temple,” Chaudhry told the court.
Meanwhile, Ramesh Kumar, head of the Hindu Council and a member of the National Assembly, said that the Karak area was sensitive and that the reconstruction of the temple should be done by the Hindu community, reports The Express Tribune.
This was the second time that the shrine had been attacked. It was demolished in 1997 and then rebuilt in 2015 as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
Monday’s order comes after a report submitted to the Supreme Court on February 5 by the one-man Shoaib Suddle Commission had revealed that most of the Hindu holy sites across the country were a “picture of neglect”.
The Commission was set up by the apex court in 2019 to oversee implementation of its judgement on minority rights.
It regretted that ETPB “failed to maintain most of the ancient and holy sites of the minority community”.
Of the 428 Hindu temples in Pakistan that existed before Partition, only around 20 have survived, according to an official survey.
Some of the major Hindu temples in Pakistan include Shri Hinglaj Mata temple (Balochistan), Shri Ramdev Pir temple (Sindh), Umarkot Shiv Mandir (Sindh), and the Churrio Jabal Durga Mata temple (Sindh).
According to the 2017 Pakistan Census, Hindus make up for 2.14 per cent of the country’s overall population.