Update on Hindu Temple in Lahore: Case Closed?

Posted on June 30, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Law & Justice, Minorities, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Update: here.

ATP has been following the developing story about the reported destruction of a Hindu temple in Rangmahal, Lahore. We first wrote about the initial reports on June 14 and then gave a detailed account of how how events were unfolding, on June 17. At that point, the ‘facts’ of the story (as opposed to all the rhetoric coming from both Pakistan and India) were:

  1. The building in question was NOT Krishna Mandir. There is a Krishna Mandir in Lahore, but it is on Ravi Road (far away from Rangmahal). Krishna Mandir is intact and functional. And, the Pakistan government has recently supported its renovation.
  2. However, there was concern that the demolished building was also once a Mandir, although no longer functional. A Hindu resident of Rawalpindi (250km from Lahore) Mr. Om Prakash Narayan had moved the Lahore High Court to stop construction on at the site. The Court had issued a stay order and required the authorities to provide evidence that their action was legal (which it would not be if it were a Temple).

There have been political murmurs on the issue since then, but ATP kept quiet because there were no facts to report or react to. Now, there seems to be a new and important development in the case.

According to the Daily Times on 30 June, 2006 Om Prakash Narayan, who had filed a petition in the Lahore High Court has withdrawn his writ, saying the temple was intact and he had filed the petition because of a misunderstanding. Mr Narayan, who is also the secretary general of the Pakistan Minorities Welfare Council was reported as saying:

“…after visiting the place and being told by the locals that there was no temple where the plaza was being constructed, I decided to file an application in the court to withdraw my petition against the federal secretary of Religious Affairs and Evacuee Property Trust Board (ETPB) chairman.â€Â?

Mr. Narayan was also reported as calling the statements of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders misleading and interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and that “…they [BJP] should look at what is happening against minorities in India, which calls itself a liberal secular state.â€Â?

While BJP statements were unhelpful and playing to their own domestic political tunes, this last bit from Mr. Narayan sounds a little too canned, and mimics earlier statements from the Pakistan Minister for Religious Affaits, Ejazul Haq, who (again, according to the Daily Times) had spoken two days earlier to say that “India’s Hindu nationalist leadership must cease spreading propaganda about Hindu temples being destroyed in Pakistan” because such allegations could impede the India-Pakistan peace process.

He also criticised Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishan Advani’s statements, saying the leader should act responsible and refrain from issuing baseless allegations. He also said Advani should visit Lahore and see for himself that it was intact and the Religious Affairs Ministry had spent Rs 1 million on its renovation. “I will receive Advani at Wagah and he will be my guest during his stay in Lahore,� he said.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Ejazul Haq was in the city to hand over a newly built Sikh crematorium at Babu Sabu near Bund Road to Sikh leaders and to lay the foundation of stone of a Hindu crematorium close to the Sikh one.

According to the same report: Mushtaq Victor, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, “said that another building that was reported to have been a temple and to have been demolished to make place for a commercial plaza, was found intact in Wachhoo Wali Bazaar.”

Hindu MNAs Kirshan Bheel and Devdas and MPAs Rajveer Singh, Ishwar Lal, Om Prakash, and Ram Narain Malkani praised the government for providing all facilities to minorities in Pakistan, saying the controversy was apparently engineered to create misunderstanding between Hindus and Muslims… Later, Ejazul Haq took the Hindu and Sikh leaders and reporters to Krishna Temple and met the pundit there.

The news that Krishna Temple is safe and remains operational and that the demolished building was not a Temple is happy news for all Pakistanis; Hindus as well as Muslims. It is news that Mr. Haq as well as Mr. Advani can and should celebrate. However, the fact that politicians on both sides continue to use this as something to wrap their political agendas around, is not welcome.

It would be best if everyone–Mr. Advani, Mr. Haq, and even Mr. Narayan–refrains from making this about anything more than the Temple itself. What would be even better is if Mr. Advani should accept Mr. Haq’s invitation to come over to Lahore!

10 responses to “Update on Hindu Temple in Lahore: Case Closed?”

  1. Sandeep Bhasin says:

    I am sorry to intrude but can’t resist…

    Advani is virtually non-existent in India at this point in time. BJP was washed-away in the last elections. I don’t think they can get back to power in the near future (other than Gujarat, of course). So when Advani made this comment, it made more news outside of India than in India. I don’t think any Indian (other than BJP’s top brass) is bothered about the state of Hindus in Pakistan (including demolition of Hindu temples) as we believe, I guess, that it’s an internal matter of Pakistan.

    I feel, for us Indians, there is no point in discussing how a Hindu is being treated in Pakistan when we can see with our own eyes how the ‘Hindu’ farmer opts to end his life because the government fails to bail him out (of debt)…

  2. Altamash Mir says:

    Thanx for the update…Bilal, I agree with you. The Muslim Majority of Pakistan has to take responsibility of the affairs of the minorities, instead of handing the funds over to the “Minority Leaders” who just like the Majority leaders, care less about their constituencies. A change of attitude is needed and tolerance should be “Introduced” into our society!

  3. Bilal Zuberi says:

    While it is very heartening to hear that the temples are indeed safe, and that the Minister Ejaz ul Haq is taking personal responsibility for their safety, the fact remains that Hindus (and Christians) do feel unsafe in Pakistan and are targetted in many different ways by malicious muslims. I believe that most Pakistanis are quite tolerating of th eminorities (despite all attempts to indoctrinate them via changing history in textbooks), but a public education movement is needed to make the issues of th eminorities more real to the majority, and to get them engaged. This will not happen if just J. Salik (and other minority community leaders) led the charge. We need some muslims to step up and take leadership positions on this front.

  4. MSK says:

    I am glad that the temples are safe. And you are rigt, lets not make this about India-Pakistan politics. Thanks for continuing with follwing the story.

  5. Shirazi says:

    Congrats for making to WordPress Top List. It is a big deal in this short time an in the face f such compitition – millions of blog out there.

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