No issue with construction of Islamabad's first Hindu temple: Pakistan minister Noorul Haq Qadri

PTI ISLAMABAD Jul 09, 2020, 06.43 AM(IST)

The ground breaking ceremony was held in Islamabad's H-9 sector area. Photograph:( Twitter )

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The Islamabad High Court dismissed three identical petitions challenging the construction of the Krishna temple in Islamabad's Sector H-9 area.

Pakistan's Minister of Religious Affairs on Wednesday said there was no issue with the construction of the first Hindu temple in the country's capital and the real issue was whether it could be built with the public money, a day after a court here dismissed three identical pleas challenging its construction.

Noorul Haq Qadri said this while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly after the Islamabad High Court dismissed three identical petitions challenging the construction of the Krishna temple in Islamabad's Sector H-9 area.

A single bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, delivered the judgement late on Tuesday, making it clear that there was no bar on the Institute of Hindu Panchayat (IHP), which was allotted the land for the construction of the temple, to build it using its own funds.

As per plans, the Krishna temple is supposed to come up in a 20,000 sq ft plot in the capital's H-9 administrative division. The groundbreaking ceremony for the temple was performed recently by Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a ruling ally of the Imran Khan government, has opposed the construction of the temple, asking its coalition partner to scrap the project as it is "against the spirit of Islam".

The petitioners had asked the court to annul the construction of the temple and allotment of a piece of land by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for it in Islamabad, pleading that there was no provision for the same in the master plan of the national capital.

The court rejected it saying that it was up to the CDA to decide the purpose of land. "There is no need to debate on the rights of minorities as they are protected by the (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) government. The party's manifesto calls for removing all obstructions in the implementation of constitutional provisions regarding the rights of minorities," the minister said.

Qadri said that some minority lawmakers had approached him with the request to provide funds for construction but he refused as he had no money. He said that the matter was referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan but no progress was made.

He said as some clerics had objected the use of state funds for the construction of the temple, the matter was referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology to decide. He also said that construction was halted by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for it in Islamabad's sector H-9 area.

The CDA last week stopped the construction of the boundary wall on the plot meant for the temple citing legal reasons. The CDA, during arguments, clarified that the plot was allotted after consultations with all departments but its construction was stopped as the builder failed to provide a detailed design.

The court, in its five-page judgment, also noted that according to the CDA, the land was allotted to the IHP in 2017 for the construction of a temple, community centre and crematorium in Sector H-9 where graveyards of other minority communities already exist.

The sub sector H-9/2 was designated by the authority for the purpose of allocating plots to minorities. Since the construction was put on hold, "hence the grievance of the petitioners on the specific issue stand allayed and has become infructuous, for the time being", the court said.

It also rejected the petitioners' claim that Rs 100 million was paid by the government for the construction of the temple and noted that the matter has rather been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for opinion.