Hindus seek possession of worship places
PESHAWAR: Members of the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement on Saturday demanded that the government hand over all places of worship and attached properties to the members of Hindu community and ensure their protection.
The demand was made during a demonstration organised by the APHRM at the Kashmiri Camp No987 here.
The participants held banners and placards inscribed with call for the immediate end to the occupation of their properties.
Oppose sale of attached properties
Speaking on the occasion, APHRM chairman Haroon Sarbdiyal said there were three temples and one gurdwara at Kashmir Camp but they were held by the Auqaf department.
He said the attached properties were meant for the caretakers and not for sale or construction of shopping plazas.
“We are opposed to the sale of the attached properties because the worship places are extremely vulnerable and it is duty of Auqaf and archaeology departments to share details of properties and worship places with Hindus and Sikhs and hand over the properties to the minority groups,” he said.
Mr. Haroon demanded that the National Accountability Bureau intervene and take action against all those government officials and property dealers for bargaining over the properties under the custody of Evacuee Trust Property Board.
He said the federal government had formed a 22-member committee to protect the rights of minorities but ironically, minorities had no representation in it.
The APHRM chairman said Hindus and Sikhs had no proper school and community centre and that their land was on sale in different cities of the country. He claimed the Auqaf department was not giving details about the minorities’ properties occupied by influential people in Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and other cities.
He warned the sale of attached properties was not acceptable to Hindus.
“Hindus have no objection to the shifting of Kashmiri families anywhere or giving them any lucrative place but the sale of entire attached properties should be stopped immediately,” he said.
Also in the day, auqaf department assistant administrator Asif Khan told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that four worship places of Hindus were fully protected and his department was responsible for its protection.
“On our request, the district administration has sealed up three temples and one gurdwara located on the premises of Kashmir Camp. No one had ever tried to demolish them,” he said, adding that the Kashmiri families had protected minorities since their arrival in 1947.
The temples, he said were non-functional and could not be handed over to minorities without permission of the federal government because the tombs were built on small pieces of land where security would be major issue for the people.
Muazzam Butt advocate said he had filed a petition in the Peshawar High Court against possible demolition of the temples but the auqaf department assured him that it would ensure protection of the worship places.
He said under Article 20 of the Constitution, every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his/ her religion.
“Every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
“I had filed petition in the high court to ensure through court that the worship places of Hindus and Sikhs would remain safe,” he said.
He said in Pakistan the worship places of Hindus were safe but in India the Muslims and their worship places were totally unsafe.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2016