COMMUNAL HARMONY Ceremony held to hand over keys to Hindu leaders in presence of DC after school being run in temple relocated
CHANDIGARH: Amid reports of religious persecution of minority communities in Pakistan comes heart-warming news of a 200-year-old temple that was handed over to Hindus in the tribal district of Zhob, 330 km from Quetta, in Balochistan seven decades after Partition.
A media report from the province’s capital, said that the government primary school being run in the temple building had been relocated and a ceremony was held on the premises on Thursday to hand over the keys to Hindu community leaders in the presence of deputy commissioner Roozab Tahima Saleem and the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami mosque, Maulanaullah Dad Kakar.
Addressing the gathering, Saleem said, “Today is an important day in the history of Balochistan. This is an example of religious harmony. Maulana Allah Dad, the khateeb of the Jama Masjid, not only supported the decision but also participated as a special guest at the ceremony. The world should see how deeply our scholars have embraced the minority community.”
The DC said that a government primary school was established in the historic temple 30 years ago. The school was moved to another building before the temple was delivered. “Hindus have returned to their temple 70 years later. We apologise to the minority community for the delay,” he said, assuring them of restoring the temple.
After the restoration, Hindus will not only be able to perform rituals at this temple but visitors from far away will also be able to attend them.
HINDUS HAPPY; GURDWARA NEXT?
Hindus of Zhob have expressed happiness over the development.
Expressing gratitude for having got the opportunity to perform the ceremony, Saleem Jan, the chairman of the committee for the minority community in Zhob, told Urdu News over phone: “It’s a matter of great pleasure to have been able to visit this temple after 70 years. Sometime ago, Balochistan high court chief justice Jamal Mandokhel had visited the temple when we requested that the building be handed over to the Hindu community. He assured us and today we are thankful to the district administration and him for meeting our demand.”
According to Jan, the temple in Babu Mohalla is nearly 200 years old and was built by cutting a mountain. Hindus inhabited the area for centuries but most of them migrated to India in 1947. “About 50 Hindu families live here now. They have only one temple to go to and there too the roof can fall any time. Official records of 1928 show there were six temples, including the Arya Samaj mandir, in Zhob that were occupied after Partition. These properties should have been with the government but people occupied many of them,” he said.
He urged the government to provide funds to renovate the temple.
The minority community leader said that Hindus did not even have a cremation ground in town because a high school had been built on what was once the shamshan ghat. “We have requested the chief justice to allow the school to be run there and give us another site for the cremation ground,” he said.
According to local leaders, a nearby gurdwara of the Sikh community is also occupied as a school is being run in it. There are a few Sikh families in Zhob and the administration has promised to get the gurdwara building vacated with the school being moved to another location.
Local leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pashtun Khomip and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf attended the ceremony.