The Supreme Court called on Tuesday for a report on the efforts being made by the government to ensure access of the Hindu community to a century-old temple in Tando Adam.
A larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, also directed the additional advocate general to look into the locking of the temple. The apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the religious minority to the temple - Amrapur Asthan of Prem Prakash Panth - during the suo motu proceedings on the attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar.
"The Constitution guarantees the rights of religious minorities in the country," observed the Justice Jillani. "And the SC will ensure that these rights are [fully] enforced."
Applicant Reejho Mal had sent an application alleging that Hindus are being denied entry to their revered place of worship by the management of a government school that has been set up on the premises. The site spread over seven acres houses a historic temple and the final resting place of Swami Teenu Ram Maharaj. Mal said that the samadhi and the temple are important religious places. "Because of the law and order situation in the late 1950s, most Hindu families fled," he said. "After the decrease in Hindu population, the provincial government allotted a portion of the land to the education department, which established Dr Ziauddin Primary School there."
Father Joseph Coutts, appeared with Advocate Nadeem Sheikh as a representative of the Christian community, and requested the apex court to constitute a commission to attend to the grievances. However, the three judges declined the plea. The bench assured that the court would establish the writ of the law and their enforcement. However, the judges felt that it was duty of the government to make such legislations.
However, the bench was informed that the school management l lock up the premises in the evening due to which the Hindus cannot offer their night prayers.
Taking notice of this, the bench instructed additional advocate general Adnan Karim to look into the matter. The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday (today).
Hindu council wants their Gymkhana to be theirs
The patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, requested the Supreme Court to sanction the Hindu Gymkhana building to be used exclusively for Hindus.
Vankwani filed a concise statement informing that the Hindu community had built the Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi in 1926 for recreational purposes. He said that the building was illegally declared as evacuee property and taken over by several institutions. Eventually, in 2007, it found its way into the hands of the National Academy of Performing Arts.
He alleged that the state, which is bound by Articles 14, 20, 24, 25 and 33 of the constitution to hand over the building to the Hindu community, has been nothing more than a silent spectator.
“The Hindu community has been left without a place dedicated exclusively for their activities, which is in violation of Article 14,” he added, maintaining that this amounts to discrimination against them and is in violation of Article 25 of the Constitution.
Vankhwani felt that since the Hindus have no other place in the urban center to be able to celebrate their festivities - which violates Article 28 of the Constitution - their vibrant culture is threatened by ‘extinction’.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2014.