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Construction of a Hindu Temple in Islamabad faced challenges by petitioners and radical Islamist groups

Bowing to the pressure Imran Khan government halted the construction work and referred the issue to the Ideological council

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Construction of a Hindu temple backed by Prime minister Imran Khan in Saidpur village of country’s federal capital Islamabad has been reportedly challenged by petitioners on the ground of that there was no provision for the same in the master plan of the national capital and that the project is ‘against the spirit of Islam’, according to The  Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a ruling ally of the Imran Khan government.

Bowing to the pressure Imran khan government halted the construction work and referred the issue to the ideological council. Ironically, the court refused to the religious minorities including Hindus and Imran Khan-led government’s approval of the construction of the temple was not against the constitution.

The Pakistani court has rejected three identical petitions challenging the construction of the temple, putting an end on the controversy for now, making it clear that “there was no bar on the Institute of Hindu Panchayat (IHP), which was allotted the land for the construction of the temple using its own funds”, said the single bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising justice Umar Farooq, on late Tuesday, according to Yahoo news.

“The fact remains that no construction at present is taking place at the site till compliance is made with terms of allotment and Capital Development Authority laws”, the court noted.

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As per plans, the 20,000 sq. ft land was allotted in 2017 to build the temple, and handed over to Hindu Panchayat, a year later, by Capital Development Authority (CDA). The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple was performed recently by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi.

The ground breaking ceremony of Islamabad’s first Hindu temple was performed by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Makhi with other members of Hindu Council in Islamabad. Pic credit: Gulfnews.

Nearly a week ago, the plans to build the Shri Krishna temple earned government approval of a financial grant of 100 million rupees (US$ 597,000) by Prime Minister Khan.

The move was met with anger by some factions, that it is not permitted for non-Muslims to build their new worship places or re-build those which were in ruins, according to a federal government’s ally and speaker of the Punjab assembly, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who said that only the repair pf the existing places of worship of the Hindus, Sikhs, and Christian was allowed, and building the new structure was against the spirit of Islam.

They say that It is not acceptable to build the temple on taxpayer’s money and there’s already a temple in Saidpur village and many in Rawalpindi. But did it not occur to these religious and political charlatans that Hindus as Pakistani citizens, too, pay their taxes and that the Kartarpur Gurdwara’s renovation, with-much hype and glitz, was also made possible with the government’s money?

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Minister of Religious Affair, Noorul Haq Qadri, addressing the National Assembly. Pic Credit: DawnNews TV

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Minister of the religious affair, Noorul Haq Qadri on Wednesday, commenting on the construction of Hindu temple in the federal capital, said that there was “no question” about its construction and that the real issue was funding. There’s been a lot of talk on the issue recently.

Qadri said construction had been halted due to technical reasons and legal issues with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). The CDA last week stopped the construction of the boundary wall on the plot meant for construction, citing legal reasons, reported Dawn News.

“The CDA, during arguments, clarified that the construction was stopped as the builder failed to provide a detailed design”, according to Yahoo News.

The religious affair Minister’s remarks came a day after the Islamabad High Court dismissed three identical petitions against the construction of the temple. “The issues related to religious bigotry has been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology, he added.

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Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday. Pic Credit: DawnNews TV

Meanwhile, Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari said that it was “unacceptable” to deprive minorities of their places of worship and the rights granted to them under the Constitution. “We have condemned violence against Muslims in India and atrocities against the people of Jammu & Kashmir. When we speak out against all these issues, the persecution that Muslims are facing and the annexation of Israel. If we don’t protect and defend our own minorities then how will we fight the case of other Muslims across the world?”

Several Pakistani artists have also voiced their concern against the discrimination on Social Media.

“Meanwhile, Churches and Catholic groups have also joined the row of condemnation of halting of the construction against authorities” according to UCA news.

“If you were powerless, you shouldn’t have started the construction of the temple. Your decision has exposed the issue of respect of religions and defamed the country. God forbid if the same theory is promoted in India,” said Catholic Professor, Anjum James Paul, Pakistan’s Minorities Teachers’ Association (PMTA) chairman in a Facebook Post.

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Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami Youth held a protest opposing the Hindu temple outside Rawalpindi Press Club on July 7. They say, the claimants should come to their senses because the Prophet had never built a temple or an idol in his life, nor did his companions.

“Halting the construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad is an unconscionable act of bigotry that must be reversed immediately,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“Those who deny a long-marginalised community the right to practise their faith freely not only betray his legacy, but also violate the human rights of religious minorities protected under Pakistan’s constitution and its international human rights obligations,” said Omar Waraich, head of South Asia at Amnesty International.

If the temple got built, it would be the first new Hindu place of worship built in Islamabad since Pakistan’s creation in 1947.

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