Despite releasing funds: PHC summons govt officials for failing to build crematorium

Published: May 23, 2018
Govt’s lawyer says disagreement between Sikh, Hindu elders on venue causing delays in construction

Govt’s lawyer says disagreement between Sikh, Hindu elders on venue causing delays in construction PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Despite the fact that the provincial government released funds for it, the relevant authorities still failed to build a crematorium for members of minority communities in the city.

A high court subsequently directed the deputy commissioner, Nazim for Town 1 and the administrator of the Auqaf Department to appear before the court and explain why they have not built the facility.

The directions were issued by a two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarat Hilali, while hearing a writ petition filed by Babaji Guru Gurpal Singh.

Singh, in his petition, had urged the court to direct the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to build a crematorium in the provincial capital for the large Sikh and Hindu population of the province, contending that the provincial government has already released Rs30 million to build the facility.

The petition, filed through advocate Muhammad Khurshid, claimed that the deputy commissioner was reluctant to build the crematorium.

Khurshid added that the government had also released Rs2.669 million to purchase an ambulance for the local Gurdwara. However, the Nazim — who is the custodian of the fund — had failed to spend it accordingly.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that due to the lack of a crematorium in or around Peshawar, Hindu and Sikh residents of the city were compelled to take their dead to Attock on the edge of Punjab to complete the funeral rites of their loved ones. This, he said, was an expensive proposition and was beyond the financial means of a majority of their impoverished community members.  As a result, he said, the Hindus have been forced to abandon their ritual practice in favour of the cheaper option of burying their dead.

However, a counsel for the Auqaf department argued that while funds for the project have been released, mutual differences between the Sikh and Hindu elders have impeded the authorities in going ahead with the construction of the crematorium.

“They have not even agreed on the venue of the crematorium,” the lawyer for respondents argued.

He added that there is a small cremation centre in the city which was serving the community.

At this, Hindu leaders present in the court explained that the small centre had been built by the community on self-help basis after the government failed to build a crematorium. They added that the centre was dedicated to Hindus. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2018.

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