By Hamza Ameer
Islamabad, Oct 29 (IANS) The issue of constructing a Hindu temple in the heart Islamabad, an issue that was opposed by many religious groups, is now under consideration and review of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), who has recommended that instead of allotting land and constructing a new Hindu temple, an already established temple in Saidpur village in the Pakistani capital should be opened.
“In view of the current population in Islamabad, the ancient temple and the adjoining Dharamshala at Saidpur village be opened to the Hindus and they should be facilitated to reach there to perform religious services as per their beliefs,” the CII statement maintained.
The CII has also given a positive nod for allotting space for setting up a crematorium along with a community centre to hold wedding ceremonies and perform the religious rituals for the Hindu community.
The decision of the CII came after hearing arguments and pointers from various applicants, which include religious clerics and representatives of the Hindu community as the Council reviewed the matter at length and in depth.
Keeping in view the Islamic norms and laws, the council observed that the government funds could not be allocated for unofficial worship places.
However, as citizens of Pakistan, the state could apportion funds for the well-being of the Hindu community.
The incumbent Imran Khan-led government came under serious pressure and criticism after it approved the allocation of land and funds for construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad’s sector H-9/2, a decision pending since 2017 when the then Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) government allotted 2,400 square yards of the same land for the same purpose.
However, many lawmakers and religious groups, who declared the decision as “un-Islamic”, opposed the decision.
The opposition over the construction of the temple gained fire after the Khan government approved 100 million PKR for its construction during June this year.
Videos and reports of people, belonging to different Islamic school of thoughts and groups were seen offering prayers at the temple site, breaking down the initial construction work and vowing to fight against what they called illegal and un-Islamic construction of the Hindu temple.
Amid growing anger among the locals, the construction work was stopped by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), who had constructed the boundary wall on the plot meant for the temple.
In July, an application was referred to the CII by the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs, seeking recommendations over allotment the land for the construction of the Hindu temple.
The Ministry also asked for advice over allocation of 100 million PKR by Prime Minister Khan for the construction of a crematorium and the temple itself.
A case was also registered against the construction of the Hindu temple, seeking immediate stop to the construction work of the temple. The court referred the matter to the decision of the CII, which has not stated that an already established Hindu temple can be reopened for the Hindu community, but a new construction of the temple cannot be allowed.