A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking elucidation of the rights of minorities and the reconstruction of Jain Mandir, which was demolished in 1992 after Hindu extremists tore down the Babri Masjid in India.
Petitioners Pir Ali Imran Sahir Israpheel, Syed Shamhurash Rizwanul Murtaza and Barrister Muhammad Javed Iqbal Jaafri submitted that they had written several applications to government officials over the last 35 years asking that the area known as Jain Mandir along Lytton Road be cleared of illegal occupants, but they had been ignored.
They said the land was occupied gradually starting during the rule of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. They said that the temple building was destroyed in 1992 following the demolition of Babri Masjid. They submitted that the destruction of the worship places of non-Muslims was a manifestation of the state’s failure to protect their rights.
The petitioners submitted that at the time of Partition, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Jews made up about 20 per cent of the total population. Discrimination against minorities had resulted in their number dropping to 3-4 per cent of the population. They said that there was no tolerance for minorities in Pakistan and many Hindu families were currently seeking to leave.
The petitioners submitted that the government should have stopped “mullaism” and make Pakistan a country where everyone could follow their religion freely. They said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had made it the state’s prerogative to determine people’s religion or sect, which was a victimisation of minorities. Nowadays Shias were being victimised because of their beliefs. Meanwhile, the sale of alcohol had grown fourfold since the 1970s.
The petitioners said that Pakistan had become a failed, rogue and corrupt state. They said a considerable population of the country wanted to leave.
They asked the court to whether minorities have religious freedom in Pakistan and to define their rights. They also asked it to order the government to clear the Jain Mandir area of illegal occupants and rebuild and reopen the temple within six months.
The chief secretary, the Auqaf Department, the cabinet secretary, the Evacuee Trust Property Board, the interior secretary and the senior member of the Punjab Board of Revenue were named as respondents.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2012.