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Hindu religious sites lying in a state of decay, says a commission set up by Pakistan Supreme Court

The report of the commission that was submitted before the Supreme Court on February 5 presented a worrisome picture of the Hindu community's most revered religious sites in today's Pakistan. The report said the sites have been lying in a state of decay.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has reportedly slammed the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in Pakistan for neglecting the Hindu religious sites in the country based on a report submitted to it. According to reports, a one-man commission was set up by the Supreme Court comprising of Dr Shoaib Suddle, with three supporting members namely Dr Ramesh Vankwani, Saqib Jillani and the attorney general of Pakistan.

Hindu religious sites lying in a state of decay: Commission

The report of the commission that was submitted before the Supreme Court on February 5 presented a worrisome picture of the Hindu community’s most revered religious sites in today’s Pakistan. The report said the sites have been lying in a state of decay. The commission visited the Katas Raj temples, Chakwal and Prahlad Mandir, Multan on January 6, 2021, and January 7, 2021, respectively and saw that the sites were lying neglected. The report called for a collaborative effort to renovate Terri Mandir, Karak, Katas Raj temples, Chakwal, Prahlad Mandir, Multan and Hinglaj Mandir, Lasbela.

A letter of the ETPB reportedly stated that out of 365 Hindu temples in Pakistan, only 13 (3.6%) are being managed by the board, 65 (17.8%) have been left to the Hindu community and the remaining 287 (78.6%) have been abandoned to the land mafias. “It is indeed strange that even in this age of technology the ETPB has yet to get the evacuee properties Geo-tagged. That the statistics of Gurudwaras though give a relatively bit better picture (18 or 17.1% out of 105 being managed by the ETPB), it still is far from appearing envious. That ETPB, with its staff, spread in all corners of Pakistan and huge paraphernalia, is managing 13+18=31 worship places out of total 470 (or only 6.6% of the total)”, the Commission reportedly stated. On January 5, the Supreme Court had directed the ETPB to submit a detailed report of all temples, gurudwaras and other religious sites across Pakistan which came under its purview.

Commission calls ETPB an outdated body, suggests amendments

The commission in its reportedly called out the ETPB for not responding to the Supreme Court directions on time and not cooperating in the reconstruction of the Terri Mandir that was torched by Islamic fanatics in December last year. “That as a last resort, Pakistan Hindu Council requested the ETPB to accord them permission to start restoration work of from their own resources (the ownership staying with the ETPB). Yet the ETPB neither visited the site during the construction phase nor afterwards. Nor did ETPB show any interest in assessing the number of pilgrims coming to Teri from as far as Sindh by road, and hardships faced by them”, the report stated. The Commission termed the ETPB an outdated body and suggested amendments to turn it into a corporate body that can deliver its aims and objects efficiently, fairly and transparently in close cooperation with the evacuee communities.

The Commission recommended the Supreme Court to form a Working Group consisting of Chairman ETPB, Federal Secretary Heritage, Provincial Secretary Archaeology, DG Walled City Lahore, Mr. Nayyar Ali Dada (Architect), Prof. Sajjad Kausar (former Principal NCA), Prof. Sajida Vandal and one representative each from Hindu and Sikh communities.

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