Respect for religion should be universal in approach and practice. Regardless of what you believe in, the Mosques, Churches, Temples, Gurdwaras, and any religious or spiritual place carry a special holiness and sanctity to everyone. The universality in his respect has to be maintained to have tolerance in society towards others beliefs. The whole debate on inter-faith has a meaning and aim behind it and it will just remain a debate if we from all religions do not go deep to get the gist of it.
I remember the anger, rage and frustration among all Muslims when Babri Mosque was demolished. The riots and protests got registered all over the world and the act appeared as the biggest example of intolerance and disrespect towards Muslims’ faith. But if something like this happens here in Pakistan then what should be our response? The only reason that we can get away with any such act here because Hindus are such a small and weak group. Having no say in decision making and no obvious presence in any political and social landscape has weakened them altogether.
To have a worship place is a right of any community and demolishing any such place contrary to the wishes of people is a disrespect to every religion. If Muslims want respect for their religion and Mosques, they better pay the same respect to other religions and their worship places. It cannot be a win win situation for them anymore. Those who hurt other people emotions on bases of religion must know how it feels to get hurt in return….
Below is the story:
ISLAMABAD: Despite strong protest by Pakistan’s Hindu community, an 87-year-old pre-partition Hindu temple in Pakistan’s garrison town of Rawalpindi is facing demolition.
According to Jagmohan Kumar, the head of the Hindu community in Rawalpindi, the templewas being used by Hindus and Sikhs to perform last rituals of their dear ones.
According to the plaque fixed on the building, Lala Tansukh Rai, the Raees-e-Azam Rawalpindi, had constructed the temple in memory of his wife. “The ‘Shamshan Ghat’ is not only used by the locals but by the foreign missions of China and the Buddhist community as well”, Kumar said.
“The land for ‘Shamshan Ghat’ was allocated to the Hindus during the first tenure of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto when Kishan Chand Parwani was the federal minister for minorities in her cabinet. The temple is now being demolished while the open area is being maintained for the community”, he added.
According to Kumar, the original area of the ‘Shamshan Ghat’ land was 277 kanals and there were several temples along the Tipu Road and Nullah Leh. “Some of these temples were demolished before the partition while many were razed to ground after the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 in India. There were several temples in the adjacent localities of Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi where there are now residential apartments”.
Jagmohan asked how the Muslims would feel if there mosques were demolished for residential purpose.
RAWALPINDI, July 19: Hundreds of people from the Hindu community here on Monday took to the streets against the lessee of an ancient temple for pulling down half of its structure for commercial purposes.
The Muslim residents of the locality also joined the protesters to express solidarity with them and blocked the road for an hour. However, on the assurance of the police that the demolition work would be stopped, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
Talking to Dawn, Channa Lal, the Hindu priest for the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, claimed that it was the Hindu temple adjacent to shamshan ghat where religious rites were offered before cremating the body.
Hindu Sabha President Jag Mohan said they noticed some labourers demolishing the building and also digging its foundations on Monday morning. He said he along with some other people reached there and asked the labourers to stop work and produce orders.
He said the staff of Auqaf department also said the workers were not allowed to demolish the building.
Mr Mohan said before partition shamshan ghat spread over 277 kanals but when majority of Hindus migrated from the city the families left behind handed over the extra land to the government for educational purposes during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure.
He said at present the total area of the shamshan ghat including the temple building was over two kanals. The Auqaf department rented out the building to a welfare society despite protest by the Hindu community, he added.
He said in 2000 the welfare society failed to pay rent to the department after which the latter got the building vacated.
He said the Auqaf department later leased the building to one Raja Abdul Wahid who further leased it to a private media group in 2005. On the protest of the Hindu community, the department constituted a committee which declared that the building was not a temple.
“It is unfair that we have been offering religious rituals in the building for the last many years but the Auqaf department gave it to a private company for commercial purposes.”
He said over 100 Hindu families were living in the city and many foreigners including some diplomats also used the shamshan ghat for their religious rituals. When contacted, Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, a lawyer, said the Auqaf department cannot lease out worship places where religious rituals are performed. However, he said it can lease the property adjacent to worship places.
He also said the department can also rent out or lease those places which were abandoned for many years.
This reporter tried but could not contact Administrator Auqaf department Rawalpindi Noor Aslam Khan. However, Commissioner Zahid Saeed said the auqaf department was of the view that the building was not a temple so it leased it out. He said the Hindu members of the department had also verified that the building was not meant for a temple. The commissioner said he had directed the district coordination officer (DCO) to verify whether the building was a temple or not.