95% of worship places put to commercial use: Survey

Published: March 25, 2014
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ILLUSTRATION: FAIZAAN DAWOOD

ILLUSTRATION: FAIZAAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: 

Out of 428 minorities’ places of worship in the country, 408 have been converted into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and schools after 1990, a survey has found.

Another shocking figure disclosed in the survey conducted by the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) was that only 20 Hindu temples out of the 428 places of worship are operational.

“The remaining places of worship have been leased for commercial and residential purposes by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), said PHRM Chairman Haroon Sarab Diyal. The 135,000 acres of land owned by around four million Hindus is now under ETPB’s control.

Representatives of the Hindu community also wrote to all the chief ministers of the four provinces but have not received a response yet, Diyal added. He urged the government to hand over these religious places to the Hindu community to mitigate their resentment and fear of being forced to leave their homeland.

Sharing documents with The Express Tribune, he revealed that Kali Bari Hindu Temple has been rented out to a Muslim party in Dera Ismail Khan. This historic temple is being used as Taj Mehal Hotel, he added.

The documents also allege that Frontier Constabulary officials, with the help of the ETPB, occupied the Shamshan Ghaat, also in Dera Ismail Khan. The Hindu community is unable to cremate their dead because of the unavailability of Shamshan Ghaat and is forced to bury them in a graveyard shared my members of other faiths.

A Hindu temple in district Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, is now a well-known sweets shop. Meanwhile, the Holy Shiv Temple in Kohat has been converted into a government primary school.

Government Girls High School, Peshawar Cantt, now stands where a historical Hindu temple used to be; other historic temples such as the Asamai temple has been closed down in the K-P capital.

Meanwhile, Guru Duwara Gali, a Sikh religious place, has been converted into a garments shop in Abbottabad.

In the federal capital, Islamabad, the Raam Kunde Complex of Temples at SaidPur Model village is now a ‘picnic site’. A second temple at Rawal Dam, Islamabad, has been shut down and the Hindu community believes that it is going to dilapidate day by day without being handed over to them.

In Punjab, a Hindu temple was demolished and reconstructed as a community centre in Rawalpindi, while in Chakwal, ten famous temples collectively known as Bhuwan are being used by the local Muslim community for commercial purposes, despite being handed over to the Hindus.

“Even if we have control of the temples, local residents dump oil drums, utensils and animals around them,” complained Diyal.

However, Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf assured that the Evacuee Trust has already been directed to gather the data pertaining to all religious places owned by minority communities. “At least, [all this] did not happen during our government’s tenure,” he said when he was informed of the survey’s findings. “I’ll take up this matter with minorities’ leaders. It’s a serious matter.”

A committee will be constituted to address these concerns, he routinely added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Mar 25, 2014 - 9:58AM

    You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam’ first Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (August 11, 1947).

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  • zog
    Mar 25, 2014 - 10:11AM

    As a Pak muslim, so very sad and ashamed to hear this….

    I really hope these properties are restored to our Pakistani hindu brothers, and all minority property and places of worship are protected

    Unfortunately ever since mullahism became our national religion with all its Afghan cultural rituals, we have lost all that Islam taught us…

    We are with you our hindu brothers dont lose hope

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  • Mar 25, 2014 - 11:17AM

    It’s not quaid’s Pakistan, today minorities are feeling extremely embarrassment to watch over these critical conditions whereas minorities are being torch by the administration of this country, Consequently I must ask from management that where should we go, Our worship places are under the land mafia, Attacking on worship places, our sisters are not safe, our properties are not secure, minorities are in such a regretful condition

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Mar 25, 2014 - 11:28AM

    Apparently this article refers only to Hindu/Sikh temples. I know that there are at least five Christian churches in Karachi which are operational and none has been demolished/converted for other uses. I’m sure there are hundreds of more such churches in Punjab.

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  • Truther
    Mar 25, 2014 - 11:41AM

    not only that but many if not most of the mosques and imambargahs are built by illegaly occupying people’s/public land. Running supposedly religious entities is an immensely profitable business in Pakistan like extortion and other mafia businesses

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  • Hindu
    Mar 25, 2014 - 2:07PM

    this research is baseless. i visited more than 30 who have approx 50 + Temples , they are not rented. tribune these days u sucksRecommend

  • 1984
    Mar 25, 2014 - 2:23PM

    And Pakistanis are still angry because an unused mosque built on a controversial place was destroyed 2 decades ago in IndiaRecommend

  • Aashish
    Mar 25, 2014 - 3:23PM

    Implementation to what the Quaid said is very much important.
    Revivingof these temples will have great impact on minorities living in Pakistan and to people all over the world. Immediate actions should be taken to coupe with this problem.Recommend

  • Tani
    Mar 25, 2014 - 5:50PM

    If not the temples at least shamshan ghat should be given.They deserve respectable place to cremate themselves and thier loved ones when they die, and leave this world in peace.We never bury the dead. It’s as bad as burying a person alive and leaving it to rot underground. How will he attain peace,moksha like that? In such cases it’s believed the soul never finds peace and wanders on earth. That’s why we cremate it. Fire is considered purifying element in our religion it’s so bad they have to go against our life philosophy and do this.
    My humble request to my fellow pakistani friends please follow this up with respectable government and give them a crematimg ground it’s their basic right.
    ET why won’t you publish this? Recommend

  • Irfan Memon
    Mar 26, 2014 - 2:25AM

    Oh common! give me a break, I doubt that survey because the number of Operational Temples I know are far more than just 20, only in interior Sindh and this survey reports only 20 in Pakistan.

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