By Hamza Ameer
Rawalpindi, Oct 19 | After an ex-commissioner from Rawalpindi was arrested on corruption charges, the restoration of at least seven Hindu temples has been put on the back burner in Pakistan.
As per details, Muhammad Mehmood, the ex-commissioner of Rawalpindi, was arrested on corruption charges for his alleged involvement in the Ring Road corruption scandal. It was because of his arrest that the sanctioned work for restoration of Hindu temples, including the ones near the Sujan Singh Haveli, Shah Chan Chiragh, Bagh Sardaran, Chatian Hatian, Pul Shah Nazar Diwan, Lunda Bazaar and Dangi Khoj, has not even started. The provincial government had fixed a budget of at least 50 million Pakistani rupees, which is now expected to swell further in the coming days.
Locals say that the Hindu temples have been closed for at least 75 years, with many turning into more of a ‘ghost house’.
“The furniture has been stolen, iron fittings have been removed and sold by drug-addicts,” said a local resident.
“The walls of the historic temples are in a crumbling state and the structures, which were once a depiction of Mughal architecture, now replicate ruins,” the local added.
The All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat (APHP) urged the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) to start work on the projects at the earliest.
“Rehabilitation of the temples was one of the best projects of the RDA. Therefore, work should be started on the projects soon to promote religious tourism,” said Om Prakash Narain, President, APHP.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has stressed the need to ensure freedom of religious activities for all in the country, announcing construction of a new Hindu temple in the capital Islamabad, while ordering restoration of many Hindu temples and religious sites of other faiths to promote religious tourism and provide religious freedom in the country.
However, the continued rapes, kidnapping, forced conversions and marriages of teenage Hindu girls, violent assaults on Hindu temples and fear of life among the minorities in the country has continued to contradict the government claims and promises.