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Hindu activists welcome verdict on vandalized Pakistan temple

Top court orders 100 arrested suspects to pay $194,000 for the restoration of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa temple

Hindu activists welcome verdict on vandalized Pakistan temple

National Assembly member Ramesh Kumar Vankwani (right) prays at Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (Photo supplied)

Hindu activists have hailed Pakistan’s top court’s directive to collect the restoration costs of an attacked temple from the arrested suspects. 

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Oct. 13 ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to collect 33 million rupees (US$194,000) in fines from 100 people arrested for vandalizing the century-old Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi in Karak district last December. All were granted bail following an agreement between the Hindu and Muslim communities.

“The minority community can expand the place of worship as much as they want. Even if the community want it to cover the entire city, let it be,” remarked Justice Gulzar, adding the fines should be collected in a month.

Despite the reconstruction, local Hindus have complained of encroachment by the district administration and construction of a boundary wall inside the temple premises. The authorities cited security reasons for the additional wall.

National Assembly member Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who also heads Pakistan Hindu Council, plans to visit the temple next week.

“A local cleric is accusing Hindus of violating the agreement by labeling the building as a temple instead of a samadhi [mausoleum], expanding the premises and constructing rooms for the pilgrims. There are still some issues but we have great hopes from the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The latest directive is a good thing,” he told UCA News.

Chaman Lal, a Lahore-based activist, also appreciated the apex court. “This January, the chief justice had remarked that the people who vandalized the temple should pay. He wants to teach them a lesson. The authorities should ensure compliance,” he said.

Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi was also vandalized in 1997 after a local cleric claimed to own the property. In 2015, the Supreme Court similarly ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to restore the temple.

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