Much has been written about how Pakistan commits unspeakable atrocities against its minorities which has resulted in a severe plummeting of the minority population. However, of late, even the Pakistan Supreme Court is lambasting the authorities for their treatment of the country’s minorities. Now, a Pakistan Supreme Court appointed commission has stated that most Hindu temples in country has been neglected.
Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) is back in limelight as the Pakistan SC lambasted the functioning of the body as it held it responsible for the poor conditions and neglect that Hindu worshipping places in Pakistan have suffered over the years.
The one-man commission of Dr Shoaib Suddle in its report highlighted how the Hindu community’s most revered and ancient sites in the country are in a state of ravage and decay.
The report stated, “Pictures showing dismal condition of katas raj temples chakwal, and parlahd mandir multan- That the One-Man Commission visited the Katas Raj Mandir Chakwal, and Parlahd Mandir Multan on January 6, 2021, and January 7, 2021 respectively. The general picture of decay and obliteration of two of four most revered evacuee sites in Pakistan is evident from the photographs at Annex-E and Annex-F respectively.”
The report recommended collaborative efforts to renovate renovate Terri Mandir (Karak), Katas Raj Temples (Chakwal), Prahlad Mandir (Multan) and Hinglaj Mandir (Lasbela).
The report didn’t mince its words and strongly hit out at the ETPB as it stated, “It is indeed strange that even in this age of technology the ETPB has yet to get the evacuee properties Geo-tagged. That the statistics of Gurdawaras though give a relatively bit better picture (18 or 17.1% out of 105 being managed by ETPB), it still is far from appearing envious. That ETPB, with its staff, spread in all corners of Pakistan and huge paraphernalia, is managing 13+18= 31 worship places out of a total of 470 (or only 6.6% of the total).”
The commission was set up in the light of how an ancient Hindu temple in Terri village in Khyber Paktunkhwa’s Karak district was obliterated by members of the radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party.
The attack on the temple grabbed global headlines with the Pakistan Supreme Court ordering its reconstruction. In a strong ruling, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed ordered the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) – which is a statutory board of the Government of Pakistan, to reconstruct the temple. The ruling stated that the incident of vandalising over 100-year-old temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district brought “international shame to Pakistan”.
Additionally, the court asked EPTB to submit details of all functional and non-functional temples and gurdwaras across the country. The EPTB which administers properties left behind by Hindus and Sikhs after the partition in 1947, was also ordered to clear all the encroachments from temples across the country while also acting against the officials who were involved in the encroachments.
As successive Pakistan governments have failed to protect the minority communities in the country, it seems that the Pakistan SC has taken matter in its own hands to safeguard the country’s minority population, however, this may be a case of too little too late.