This Temple in Pakistan Where Hindus Are Banned, Caretakers Are Also Muslims

Islamabad : Protests are going on in Islamabad, Pakistan to build the first Hindu temple. Many Muslim organizations are against it. The plight of Hindus and their religious place in Pakistan is not hidden from anyone. One of them is a sixteenth century Ram temple buried in the foothills of the Himalayas in Islamabad. It is believed that during 14 years of exile, Lord Rama lived here with Sita and Lakshmana, after which it was given the shape of a temple.

 

For centuries, Hindus have come from far and wide to worship in this Ram temple. These devotees used to stay peacefully in this Dharamshala, which is today called Saidpur village. According to official records, till 1893 a fair was held every year near a pond here. It is believed that Lord Rama once drank water from this pond. However, now this pond has become a foul drain.

 
From 1947 onwards, Hindus were prohibited from worshiping in this temple and in that complex. This temple has been kept open for tourists but all the idols have been removed from this temple. Now restaurants and handicraft shops have been opened for tourists in this shrine.
 

Hindu activist Sawai Lal said, ‘The government has preserved this place as a heritage, but by allowing restaurants and shops to run in this complex, the government is violating the sanctity of the place.’

 

Muhammad Anwar, who took care of the temple complex, said that this area has now become a ‘heritage site’ and Hindus are not allowed to worship here. Anwar said, ‘Sometimes people demand to worship here, but we have to stop them.’

 

Most of the minorities in Pakistan feel that the government has failed to protect them and sometimes they have to face violence here. The Hindus here are once again in the limelight due to the opposition to the construction of a new temple in Islamabad.

 

The number of minorities here is very less. Sawai Lal said, ‘Some fundamentalists have tried to sabotage our temple site in Islamabad, after which we feel scared.’ He said that currently there is no temple here for 3,000 Hindus of Islamabad.

 

In 1960, this Ram temple complex was converted into a girls’ school. After years of protests from the Hindu community, the school was relocated and the temple vacated in 2006 but Hindus were not allowed to worship there.

Patron head of Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said that out of the total 1,288 Hindu temples currently registered with the Evacuee Trust Property Board, only 31 temples are allowed to visit. This board looks after the maintenance of abandoned properties of people leaving Pakistan and going to India during partition.

Vankwani said, “We should be allowed to restructure our existing temples.” Hindu leaders here say that after the construction of the new temple started in the capital last week, these people had raised some expectations. But after the opposition of the clerics, they are now waiting for the final approval of the Prime Minister so that construction work can start once again.

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