ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to reopen over 400 temples across the country that had been foreclosed or were undergoing renovations amid vintage/vulnerable structures.
When most Hindus migrated to India following the 1947 partition, many temples, as well as other lucrative properties owned by wealthy individuals, were lost to encroachment; even in places where some Hindu families stayed back, local strongmen muscled in and occupied the land.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, PTI Spokesperson Ahmad Jawad said this development is being made in line with the longstanding demand of the Hindu community that their places of worship be restored to them.
It was reported in April, the process will begin with two historic shrines in Sialkot and Peshawar. Sialkot has a functioning Jagannath Temple and now the 1,000-year-old Shivalaya Teja Singh is set to be restored.
Hindus had stopped visiting the shivalaya after a mob attack during Babri mosque demolition protests in 1992. In Peshawar, the Pakistani courts had ordered reopening of the Gorakhnath Temple and it’s been declared a heritage site.
From now on, two to three such historic and heritage temple complexes will be restored by the government of Pakistan every year.
Earlier this year, the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement conducted a survey across the country which found out that there were 428 Hindu temples at the time of Partition.
According to a recent government estimate, at least 11 temples in Sindh, four in Punjab, three in Balochistan and two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were operational in 2019.