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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Pakistan authorities restore land for first Hindu temple in Islamabad after public outcry

Following the news of the cancellation of the plot, the mainstream as well as social media criticised the civic authority, forcing it to withdraw the notification.

By: PTI | Islamabad |
Updated: November 9, 2021 2:08:39 pm
Currently, there is no temple and cremation centre in Islamabad for the Hindu community. (Representational image)

The city authorities in Islamabad have restored a piece of land allotted to the Hindu community for the construction of the first temple in the Pakistani capital following a huge public outcry after officials told a top court in Islamabad that the allotment has been cancelled.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) revealed the cancellation of the plot on Monday during the hearing of a case in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday.

CDA’s counsel Javed Iqbal told the court that the civic agency had already cancelled the plot for the Hindu community in February this year for not starting construction on it.

According to the report, four kanals (0.5 acres) of land at H-9/2 in Islamabad was allotted to the community in 2016 for the construction of the first ever Hindu temple, cremation and community centre.

Following the news of the cancellation of the plot, the mainstream as well as social media criticised the CDA, forcing it to withdraw the notification.

The CDA spokesperson Syed Asif Raza said that following a decision of the government, allotments of all lands issued to various offices, universities and other institutions on which no construction work had been started were cancelled.

However, the officials concerned in the civic agency misinterpreted the Cabinet decision and had cancelled the plot allotted to the Hindu community.

He said approval had already been given for construction of a boundary wall on the land allotted for the temple, so the decision of the Cabinet did not apply to it.

This plot did not fall in the category of those where construction had not taken place, he added.

The spokesperson also shared a copy of the new allotment letter which stated: “The allotment of subject plot allotted for temple, community centre and cremation ground for Hindu community in Sector H-9/2, Islamabad, stands valid as the same is not affected by the Cabinet decision dated 22-09-2020 as construction work on the subject plot had been initiated after approval of CDA dated 21-12-2020.”

Asked if the CDA will initiate any inquiry against those who misinterpreted the Cabinet’s decision, he said: “actually, there was no bad intention involved in this case.”

“There was some sort of confusion and misinterpretation of the Cabinet decision and when the matter was brought into the notice of high-ups, the allotment was restored immediately,” he said.

In July last year, after strong reaction from rightwing groups, which criticised the government for its intention to build a Hindu temple with government funding, the CDA had stopped the community from constructing the boundary wall around the plot.
However, the matter was resolved in December when the city managers issued permission to the community to raise the boundary wall around the proposed site.

There is no temple and cremation centre in Islamabad for the Hindu community. After lots of efforts by the community and on the direction of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan, the CDA allotted the four kanals to the community in 2016.

In the past, there was a temple in Saidpur village area of Islamabad but that was abandoned decades ago.

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