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'Babri has links with Pak temples'

The Daily Times stated that once the Katasraj Temples were restored, the Babri Mosque in India would be rebuilt.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2006 16:17 IST

Has there been an agreement that once the Katasraj Temples in Pakistan are restored to their pristine glory, the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in India would also be rebuilt?

The Daily Times newspaper quoted unnamed sources in a report from Lahore as stating, "Pakistani and Indian politicians had agreed that once the Katasraj Temples were restored, the Babri Mosque in India would be rebuilt".

It indicated that the restoration of the Katasraj Temples in Punjab province was planned during the visit to Pakistan last year of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart and opposition leader LK Advani.

Advani laid the foundation for restoration of the temples and assured his assistance for the purpose, it said.

Advani was one of the leaders present when the Babri Masjid was demolished December 6, 1992, by Hindu mobs that claimed it was built on the site of the birthplace of Lord Ram.

The entire dispute, having serious political and religious dimensions, is before court. A makeshift Ram temple there is guarded as per court orders.

It was during his visit that Advani lauded the secular ideals of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This sparked a controversy within the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which eventually led to his having to quit the BJP president's post.

At a meeting on September 1 last year, the restoration of the Katasraj Temples was agreed upon between Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Shiv Shankar Menon, the Indian high commissioner to Pakistan.

The paper said the first phase of restoration work will begin next month at the Katasraj shrine as per an understanding reached between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan will spend Rs 30 million ($500,000) on the first of the three-phased restoration work, sources in the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD) told Daily Times.

The Katasraj Temples were transferred to the PAD recently.

The Pakistan government would fund the total project estimated at $25 million, the paper said. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the shrine is an important site for Hindu pilgrims in Pakistan. It stands on a site believed to be visited by the Pandavas as per Mahabharata.

Sources said a list of recommendations for restoration had been finalised as suggested by Pakistani and Indian archaeology officials.