Krishna Mandir demolition reports

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In May 2006, newspapers reported the demolition of Krishna Mandir, a Hindu temple located in Lahore, Pakistan. The reports were alleged to be false after government officials and the Pakistan Hindu Council confirmed that the temple was intact. However, the demolition of the temple has been reported in the Dawn newspaper, and when the reporter attempted to take photos of the remnants of the temple that was destroyed, he was stopped. There have been no independent, third party, international verifiable reports whether a temple was destroyed or not.

Background[edit]

Krishna Mandir, a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Krishna, is located in Wachhowali, Rang Mahal, in Lahore, Pakistan. Wachhowali is a narrow commercial and residential lane, and has several Hindu temples, which are managed and maintained by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB).[1]

The Evacuee Trust Property Board had previously allocated a sum of Rs 1.2 million in January 2005 for the renovation and extension of Krishna Mandir. The temple had been badly damaged in clashes that took place after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in India in the 1990s.[2] The website of the Minorities Affairs Division of the Pakistan government states that the tender for the renovation and extension of the temple was awarded on March 31, 2005 and over half of the work had been completed by June 30, 2005. The temple was to be completely restored by June 2006.[2]

Reports of demolition[edit]

On 28 May 2006, Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn reported that the temple was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. When Dawn reporters attempted to take photographs of the alleged site, they were asked to leave by representatives of the developer, who denied claims of a Hindu temple having existed at the site.[3][4] EPTB officials reportedly concealed the fact that the structure had been a temple from the chairman in order to obtain his approval to allow the developer to demolish the structure.[4]

Mumbai-based Daily News & Analysis released reports claiming that the priest of the demolished temple, Kashi Ram, many opposition members of the National Assembly belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League, had attempted to block the demolition by moving a motion in Parliament. However, powerful members of the ruling party considered close to the builders, in collusion with EPTB chairman, Lt Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, blocked the efforts and got the temple demolished.[2]

National response[edit]

Several political parties in Pakistan were reported to have objected to the alleged demolition, such as the Pakistan People's party and the Pakistani Muslim League-N.[5][6] They reportedly moved a motion against the demolition, saying such an act could have a bearing on Pakistan's relations with neighbouring countries.[5]

Legal action[edit]

A firm of lawyers representing the Hindu minority approached the Lahore High Court seeking a directive to the builders to stop the construction of the commercial plaza and reconstruct the temple at the site. The petitioners maintained that the demolition violated section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibiting the demolition of places of worship.[7]

International response[edit]

News of the demolition also evoked strong condemnation from in India from minority bodies and political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, as well as Muslim advocacy political parties such as the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat[8]

Amid growing condemnation of the demolition of the only temple in Lahore, the Indian government said on June, 2006 that it has ‘taken up’ the matter with the Pakistan High Commission.[9][10] [11]

Refutation and withdrawal of legal action[edit]

On 15 June 2006, the Foreign Office of Pakistan denied reports of the demolition as "incorrect and baseless", and confirmed that the temple is safe. It pointed out that the property that was demolished was several kilometres away from the temple.[12][13] Ejazul Haq, Minister for Religious Affairs said that the temple is in "perfect condition". He responded to remarks from BJP leader L.K. Advani that minorities in Pakistan do not have religious freedom, by inviting Advani to "visit Lahore and pray at the temple".[14]

Om Prakash Narayan, secretary general of the Pakistan Minority Welfare Council and a Hindu, had moved the Lahore High Court on 16 June to stop construction on the site, and the court issued a stay order and requested the Lahore Development Authority to provide information on the history of the site. By June 30, 2006, Narayan had withdrawn his writ, saying the temple was intact and he had filed the petition because of a misunderstanding.[15] Narayan was reported as saying:

"…after visiting the place and being told by the locals that there was no temple where the plaza was being constructed, I decided to file an application in the court to withdraw my petition against the federal secretary of Religious Affairs and Evacuee Property Trust Board (ETPB) chairman."[15]

Narayan criticised remarks by BJP leaders as misleading, and accused them of attempting to damage India-Pakistan relations.[15]

The Pakistan Hindu Council confirmed that no Krishna temple had been demolished in Lahore.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]