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Pakistan court dismisses challenges to Hindu temple construction

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a ruling ally of the Imran Khan government, has opposed the construction of the temple

A Pakistani court has dismissed three identical petitions challenging the construction of the first Hindu temple in the country’s capital.

The Islamabad High Court ruled on Tuesday that legal objections to the allotment of a 0.2 hectare (0.5 acre) plot of land for the construction of a Hindu temple and cremation site – a long-standing demand of the city’s Hindu community – were invalid.

Construction of the temple is, however, not assured, a government official said, saying recommendations have now been sought from the country’s Council of Islamic Ideology, an independent government body of religious leaders who advise government policy.

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A single bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, delivered the judgement late on Tuesday, making it clear that there was no bar on the Institute of Hindu Panchayat (IHP), which was allotted the land for the construction of the temple, to build it using its own funds.

As per plans, the Krishna temple is supposed to come up in a 20,000 sq ft plot in the capital’s H-9 administrative division. The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple was performed recently by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi.

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a ruling ally of the Imran Khan government, has opposed the construction of the temple, asking its coalition partner to scrap the project as it is “against the spirit of Islam”.

The petitioners had asked the court to annul the construction of the temple and allotment of a piece of land by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for it in Islamabad, pleading that there was no provision for the same in the master plan of the national capital.

The court rejected it saying that it was up to the CDA to decide the purpose of land.

It also rejected the petitioners’ claim that Rs 100 million was paid by the government for the construction of the temple and noted that the matter has rather been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for opinion.

The CDA last week stopped the construction of the boundary wall on the plot meant for the temple citing legal reasons.

The CDA, during arguments, clarified that the plot was allotted after consultations with all departments but its construction was stopped as the builder failed to provide a detailed design.

The court, in its five-page judgment, also noted that according to the CDA, the land was allotted to the IHP in 2017 for the construction of a temple, community centre and crematorium in Sector H-9 where graveyards of other minority communities already exist.

The sub-sector H-9/2 was designated by the authority for the purpose of allocating plots to minorities.

Pakistan’s minorities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, have often been targeted by religious hardliners, with the country’s strict blasphemy laws disproportionately applied against religious minorities.

On Tuesday, rights group Amnesty International said Pakistan “must protect the right to freedom of religion and belief for the country’s beleaguered Hindu community”.

Sirf News Network

By Sirf News Network

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