LAHORE: Religious scholars and social activists have expressed concern over the ongoing renovation at the holy shrine of Bibi Pak Daman, and have demanded that the authorities should recover the illegally occupied land around the premises.
They protested outside the Lahore Press Club and held a press conference to push forward their demands.
Dr Ehsanur Rehman the president of Hubullah Welfare Society, along with Allama Hafiz Kazim Raza Naqvi, the head of Quran and Ahl al-Bayt Mission, Allam Muhammad Hussain Akbar, the head of Munhaj-ul-Hussain, and others jointly briefed the media about the issue.
Dr Rehman said, “We strongly protest the ongoing construction of the holy shrine of Bibi Ruqayyah bint Ali (SA) by Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Department with mala fide intention and ulterior motives.”
He said that in 2010, Dr Asma Mamdot, the then MNA of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) passed a resolution for the construction of the holy shrine, and the area was specified to be 72 kanals. The said project was approved for 135 kanals of land by the Punjab and federal government and funds were allocated for PC1 of the first phase of 35 kanals, and the design of the project was made by renowned architect Syed Hassan Raza, he added.
Dr Rehman said that with the connivance of corrupt officials of the Auqaf Department and some political figures, the commercial and residential plots of the holy shrine are still under the illegal occupation of different people. “Now the Auqaf Department has appointed Nayyar Ali Dada as the architect for a new design without any logical reason and has shelved the previously-approved design of Syed Hassan Raza,” he added.
He said that the efforts for expansion of the holy shrine were sabotaged for 14 years and replaced by a mini project on the existing insufficient area to white wash the issue for corrupt motives. He added that the design by Nayyar Ali Dada is not only unimpressive but it also appears like a Hindu temple, whereas the design of Syed Hassan Raza is eye-catching and attracts the hearts of people. He further said that Nayyar Ali Dada’s design reduces the area of the holy shrine and does not even cover the holy graves and is too small in terms of capacity to cater to the needs of millions of devotees who visit the holy shrine every year.
“When approved projects exist, then why are they starting a new design and project? In view of the above, the Shia and Sunni sects altogether reject and disapprove the ongoing construction of the holy shrine and the demand the construction of the first phase of 35 kanals, in addition to the over 72 kanals which take the total area to 135 kanals, as approved by the Punjab Assembly in 2010,” Dr Rehman said.
He said that all Shias and Sunnis request the prime minister and Punjab chief minister to personally intervene at the earliest to stop the renovation of the holy shrine, warning that failure to do so would prompt them to protest on roads all across Pakistan.
Later, talking to Pakistan Today, former MNA Asma Mamdot said that according to revenue records, the land of the holy shrine was more than 135 kanals. “We tried our best to resolve this issue but corrupt officials and malicious rulers could not solve this problem and this is why I left the PML-N. The prime minister personally wants this issue to be resolved and he is fully aware of the importance of the holy shrine but in the meantime, some people are deliberately misleading him. We do not accept Nayyar Ali Dada’s design,” she said. “The prime minister himself should investigate the matter and the land of the holy shrine should be recovered and its renovation should be in accordance with the previously-approved design.”