Hindu Temple in Lahore Demolished

Posted on June 14, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Law & Justice, Minorities, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Updates: here, here and here.

There is a storm brewing up–rightly–about the demolition of a Hindu Temple in Lahore: the Krishna Mandir, in Wachhoowali, Rangmahal. In India the BJP has launched a protest and we Pakistanis need to think about what this says about us as a society.

The story was first reported in The Dawn (May 28, 2006) which pointed out that (excerpts):

In violation of its own scheme for management and disposal of urban evacuee properties, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB) has allowed a jeweller to demolish a Hindu temple and construct a commercial building in its place at Wachhowali in Rang Mahal. The EPTB Scheme for Management and Disposal of Urban Evacuee Trust Properties, 1977, categorically prohibits the sale or demolition of an evacuee trust property which is ‘part of appurtenance to a shrine, a religious place or a building of historical or architectural importance’… this is for the first time since its establishment that the board has allowed demolition of a worship place and approved the construction of a commercial building in its place… The entire building, except a small portion facing the Wachhowali lane, has already been brought down by the developer.

There has been relatively little about this in the Pakistan press, but there is much in the Indian media and yesterday the Times of India (June 13, 2006) reported that the BJP is planning to “take to the streets to organise protests against this.” The paper quoted former Union minister and senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain as saying:

“Pakistan, which describes itself as a true Islamic state, has done a most un-Islamic crime by demolishing a minority religious site – a temple in Lahore,” and that “the BJP will lodge a strong protest with the Pakistan government and take the issue the streets to protest Pakistan’s action.”

Teh BJP may well have its own domestic political reasons to raise the issue, but Mr. Hussain is correct is saying that such a demolition negates the principles of Islam, not to mention national law governing EPTB actions.

In separate story in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis (June 13, 2006), Amir Mir reports:

The only functional Hindu temple in Lahore has been demolished to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building despite the fact that the Pakistan government had ordered its renovation and extension last year which was to be completed by June 2006… According to the Pandit of the demolished temple, Kashi Ram, many opposition members of the National Assembly belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League, had attempted to block the demolition by moving a motion in Parliament, saying such an act could have a bearing on Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring countries… Another aspect of the case is that following instructions from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, the EPTB had allocated a sum of Rs 12 lakh in January 2005 for the renovation and extension of the Krishna Mandir… After being approached by a Hindu member of the National Assembly, the PM Secretariat had directed the ETPB to carry out the renovation and extension of the temple. Strangely enough, the official website of the Minorities Affairs Division of the Pakistan government states that the tender for the renovation and extension of the Krishna Mandir was awarded on March 31, 2005 and 55 per cent of the work had been completed by June 30, 2005. The three rooms of the temple were to be converted into a big hall for the worshippers and it was to be completely restored by June 2006. It is not yet clear as to under which law the EPTB had sold the property and approved the demolition of the temple.

In his email to me on the subject iFaqeer points out that this is not just a moment of shame for Pakistanis and Muslims everywhere, it should be a call for action. He adds that he “would like to set the ball rolling on finding out what we can do–up to and including fundraising for building/rebuilding a temple. I heard a while back about a group of Pakistanis, mainly women, that were carrying out a project like that. Anyone remember what it was?” I do not know the answer, but like iFaqeer, I too would also like to know. Ideas, anyone?

My thanks to Sabahat Ashraf/iFaqeer, a man of many blogs, for alerting me to this story. One amongst his many initiatives is The Muslim Center.

3 responses to “Hindu Temple in Lahore Demolished”

  1. […] One of the very first posts we had done here on ATP was about the alleged demolition of a Hindu temple in Rangmahal Lahore (here). We followed it up with a second post demonstrating that by design and by default key forces in the media and amongst politicians tend to distort issues for their own myopic gains, even at the cost of the larger issues at stake (here). A third post on this issue from ATP followed up the story further and tried, as best as we could, to separate the facts from the rhetoric (here). […]

  2. Adil Najam says:

    The mystery on this story continues. I certianly hope that what the Pakistan Foriegn Office is saying is correct and the temple is safe.

    Excerpts from a report in The Daily Times, June 16, 2006:

    NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: The Indian government said on Thursday that it had taken up the alleged demolition of a temple in Lahore with Pakistani authorities. “We have seen media reports of the demolition of the Krishna Temple and the matter has been taken up with the Pakistani authorities,â€

  3. ATJ says:

    If I recall correctly, some time back Saudi Arabia destroyed buildings from Prophet Mohmmad time (he stayed there or the buildings were connected to him in some way) to make way for constructing malls and assorted shopping centres. There was not a murmur of protest in the muslim world.

    Contrast this to the Babri masjid episode in India.

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