Explained: Pakistan’s Krishna Temple and the controversy over its construction

NEW DELHI: A Pakistan-based human rights organisation, Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) on Saturday demanded the resumption of temple construction in Islamabad, which was stopped by pressure from some extremist groups.
In a statement, president of HRFP, Naveed Walter also condemned the negative propaganda against the Shri Krishna Mandir Complex.
Here is all you need to know about the temple and the controversy surrounding it:
What is Shri Krishna temple?
* The Krishna temple will be the first temple in Islamabad for which the Pakistan government has approved Rs 10 crore.
* The temple will come upon a 20,000-square feet plot in the H-9 administrative division.
* It will be the first new place of worship for the Hindus residing in the capital. The Hindu Panchayat Islamabad will manage the Mandir.
* The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple was performed in June by Parliamentary secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi.
* This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and will be be the first in Islamabad for its handful of Hindus.
* It would be a hub for the city’s Hindus for celebrating festivals like Diwali and Holi and catering to basic needs like cremation which do not exist in Pakistan’s capital city.
* The temple complex will also have a cremation site, apart from the space for separate structures for other religious rites.
What is the controversy about?
* After the groundbreaking ceremony, many groups have come out against the construction of the temple.
* Several clerics ruled that no Hindu temple should be built because Pakistan is a Muslim country. Citizens denounced the government for using their taxes to provide funds for the temple.
* Some groups even a[[roached the courts also to halt the temple construction.
* On July 5, the local development authority in Islamabad stopped the construction of the boundary wall on the plot allotted to the ‘Mandir’, for not having an approved building plan.
* After considerable pressure from different corners, Pakistan’s religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri said there was no problem related to the construction of the temple, but the issue was whether it could be built with the public money.
* The case was then forwarded to the Ulema Council to take a decision on it.
The court case
* On July 8, a Pakistani court dismissed three identical petitions challenging the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad.
* A single bench of the Islamabad high court delivered the judgment, making it clear that there was no bar on the Institute of Hindu Panchayat from building the temple on the land allotted to it by using its own funds.
* 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.
Ulema Council supports construction
* On July 11, the umbrella group of Muslim organisations in Pakistan extended its support to the construction of the Hindu temple in Islamabad and denounced the controversy over the issue.
* The Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), whose members include Islamic clerics and legal scholars of different Islamic traditions, also said the Constitution of Pakistan categorically defines the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims living in the country.
* Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry had written to the Council to seek its opinion on the government’s funding for the construction of the temple in the capital city amid opposition from some Muslim groups.
* The support from the Council has paved the way for the construction of the temple.
‘Welcome the construction of the temple’
* A Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the provincial assembly on Friday that the minority community in the country would welcome the construction of a Krishna temple in Islamabad.
* Speaking in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, MPA Ravi Kumar said the minorities were enjoying equal rights and living in peaceful coexistence with the majority community in Pakistan.
In support of temple
* On July 9, a group of activists organised a protest in front of National Press Club in Islamabad in the favor of building the Hindu temple in the city.
* The protesters were holding placards inscribed with slogans around the concept that Pakistan belongs to all Pakistanis. There were placards with quotes from Quaid-e-Azam promising religious freedom to minorities whereas others talked about the protection given by Islam to people belonging to religions other than Islam.
* They chanted slogans in favor of religious freedom and protection and urged government not to succumb to extremists which are actually the minority in the country.
Hindus in Pakistan
* Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.
* According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.
* The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions, and language with Muslims.
(With agency inputs)

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