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Ramesh Raut | HENB | New Delhi | Dec 13, 2016:: In a rare first, Hindus living in the Pakistani capital would soon have their major demands met after a decision by authorities to allocate land for a temple, community centre and cremation ground. Certainly the available cremation ground in Islamabad will facilitate the Hindus and Sikhs in the capital of Islamic Pakistan.
Recently the decision was taken in a meeting of Capital Development Authority (CDA), which is responsible for development and civil amenities in Islamabad. As per reports published in various Pakistani News papers, CDA approved the allocation of an half-acre plot of land approximately (measuring 4 kanal = 21780 sq feet) in Sector H-9 of the capital for a Hindu temple, community centre and cremation ground in the federal capital of Islamic Pakistan.
“It was a longstanding demand of the Hindu community which has finally been fulfilled,” the paper reported.
Around 158 Hindu families and over 800 people live in the capital Islamabad, and in the absence of a temple, they were forced to celebrate Diwali and other religious festivities at home.
As there was no crematorium in the city, they also had to take the bodies either to Rawalpindi+ or to their hometowns for cremation.
The only large temple in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi is Krishna Mandir in Saddar although a few smaller ones exist in residential parts of Rawalpindi cantonment.
In February this year, Hindu representatives urged the government to allot cremation grounds+ to the community and establish a temple on it. They also demanded the implementation of a five percent job quota for minorities.
A Hindu delegation led by President Islamabad Hindu Panchayat Dr Ashok Kumar met Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan then. They urged the government to allocate land for a cremation ground, so that the community could perform their last rites according to the provisions of Hindu scriptures.
While talking to Daily Times, Member Planning of the CDA, confirmed the decision and said: “Hindus are also the citizens of Pakistan and the land would be handed over to this community through the Auqaf Department.”
An officer of the Authority has briefed that the said land would be allotted free of cost to the minority community, which they can use for worship, cremation and also to build a community centre.
The National Coordinator of an Islamabad-based Hindu welfare society, Dr. Ajay Matlani, said: “We demanded for the construction of a worship place also in addition to a piece of land but it is fair enough, if provision of funds is not in the policy of the civic body.”
He added: “We will request the Evacuee Trust Property Board to help us in the construction as we don’t have the funds for this purpose.”
It is pertinent to mention here that Hindu community is also struggling for the restoration of their old “Ram Mandir” (Ram’s Temple), in Saidpur village, which was abandoned in 1947.
The “Mandir” is said to have been built by Raja Man Singh during time of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, but has not been used as a place of worship since partition.
A local Hindu lawmaker Lal Chand Malhi is leading a campaign for the restoration of the said temple and demanded several times the immediate restoration of this temple.
Meanwhile, the board has also approved to align the wedges of the daily wedge staff with the government policy as currently they are receiving less salaries as compared to the minimum wedge set by the federal government which is Rs.14000.
It was quite unfortunate that a 10-point agenda was circulated before the meeting, but the board has decided only on half the items.
A well-placed source briefed that it had become a routine that the concerned directorates had been sending half-backed summaries to the CDA board or even in some cases irrelevant things for approval to just shift their burden on board.
When contacted, the Secretary CDA Board, Asif Shahjahan, said: “I have placed summaries at the Board meeting after cross-checking and sometimes returned back the summaries for further deliberations, but it is the discretion of the Board to defer or return any case.”
The CDA board allocated the plot at H-9/2, close to one that had already been allocated to the All Pakistan Buddhist Society.
As a matter of fact Hindus of Pakistan have been suffering a severe Islamic persecution since the partition in 1947 and a sizeable Hindu community of 15% then has been dwindled in a figure less than 2% now in the Federal Republic of Islamic Pakistan.