Pakistan stops work at first Hindu temple in Islamabad
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had earlier approved its construction and allocated money for it, has now asked that the matter of its construction with government funds, be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology, a government approved body that advises on religious matters.Updated: Jul 05, 2020 18:43 IST
The fate of Islamabad’s first Hindu temple seems to hang in the balance after its boundary wall was vandalised by a group of fundamentalists men over the weekend and the Capital Development Authority ordered stoppage of the construction
The video of the temple being attacked went viral on Twitter and garnered a lot of criticism from people across the country. Following this the hashtag #MandirTauBanga has become one of the top trends on the social media platform.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had earlier approved its construction and allocated money for it, has now asked that the matter of its construction with government funds, be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology, a government approved body that advises on religious matters.
Over the weekend, Islamabad’s Capital Development Authority also stopped construction of the boundary wall on the plot allotted to the temple.
A team of the authority’s building control department visited the temple site and instructed workers to stop working on the boundary wall. According to CDA spokesperson Mazhar Hussain, the action was taken because a building plan had not been submitted to the authority. “Any construction taking place in Islamabad, residential or commercial, requires a building plan (map) to be approved.”
Following this, Islamabad’s Hindu Panchayat has halted the construction and decided to visit the CDA office on Monday (July 6) to discuss the matter.
“We had already submitted an application addressed to the authority regarding the boundary wall construction on June 19 but got no response from them,” Hindu Panchayat President Pritam Das told local media.
“The application said that the boundary wall was being built to secure the possession of the plot,” he said, adding that it did not make sense for the authority to take this step.
PTI Member of Parliament Lal Chand Malhi, on the other hand, said that a building plan for the temple has already been submitted to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which has forwarded it to the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The plan along with the request for a grant of Rs100 million has been sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Malhi said, pointing out that the PM had initially approved the grant. After opposition from clerics, however, it was agreed that a decision will be taken after advice from the Council of Islamic Ideology.
The religious affairs ministry in a press conference on Friday said that it only “releases funds for the renovation and rehabilitation of minority’s worship places”, not for construction.
The Hindu Panchayat is constructing the temple from its own finances, the ministry’s spokesperson said, adding that the CII will, however, be consulted on the matter of funds.
This, however, is not the only problem faced by the panchayat during the temple’s construction.
In a tweet on Saturday, Malhi said the Hindu Panchayat has announced that it is discontinuing the temple’s construction, even if the CDA allows it, due to recent cases of violence and destruction of its site.
“On June 23, we filed a request to the Islamabad district commissioner’s office for security to be provided after the temple site was vandalised,” Malhi said. “We, however, got no response from them, nor was any security provided,” he added.
“We have been receiving threats and objections from “Muslim elites and clerics” in the capital ever since construction started. A number of fatwas were also issued. “They demand that a temple should not be built with the government’s money,” Das said.
The Shri Krishna Mandir is the first of its type to be built in the capital, according to Das. It will be a worship place for over 3,000 Hindus living in Islamabad.
“The temple will have a complex, community centre and a cremation ground inside it,” he said, adding that it will comprise 10 floors. The temple will also have a ground for celebrations of festivals such as Diwali and Holi.