Pakistan Will Restore and Return 400 Hindu Temples

Two temples will be restored every year.

The Imran Khan led Pakistani administration has decided to reopen Hindu temples in the predominantly Muslim country. The Pakistani Government has announced that 400 temples will be restored. Two temples will be restored every year. The first two temples up for refurbishment are in Peshawar and Sialkot. The latter has a Shivalaya Teja Singh temple and a Jagannath temple. This action came after the government conceded to the longstanding demand of the country’s minority Hindu population that the Hindu places of worship should be restored and handed back to the community.

All 400 temples in the list were abandoned during the time of partition and were subsequently turned into restaurants, stores, and grocery shops. A few encroached by outsiders while the other structures were converted into madrassas where devout Muslims send their children to gain knowledge about Islam. Although most Pakistani Hindus at that time migrated into India, a few continued to stay in Pakistan. These Hindus, however, were unable to visit temples as local Muslims, then the dominant force, occupied those lands and usurped them for their use.

The Pakistan Government has a lot to do when it comes to restoration. The 1,000-year-old Sialkot located Shivalaya Teja Singh temple needs extensive work to bring it back to its former glory. Hindus stopped visiting this temple after a mob attacked the structure post the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992. The Pakistani courts have issued the order that Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar is to reopened and declared it a heritage site.

The Pakistan Government has set the target of restoring two to three heritage and historical temple complexes every year. The Imran Khan administration was stirred into action by the results of a survey conducted by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement. The results of the study were shocking: from a total of 428 functioning Hindu temples during the 1940s, only 20 continue to function as a Hindu place of worship. The remaining 408 temples were turned into restaurants and toy stores. As per a recent estimate by the government, about 11 temples located in Sindh, three in Balochistan, and four in Punjab are now functional temples. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, two temples continued to be patronized by Hindus.

The Imran Khan administration has taken several steps from the time it came to power. The present Pakistani regime has consented to open the well-trafficked Kartarpur Sahib corridor so Indian Sikhs can visit Guru Nanak’s birthplace.

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