The local Hindu community in Peshawar has asked the government to hand over a centuries-old Hindu site to them so that they can use its temple.
Panj Tirath was earlier declared a national heritage site by the government. It is spread over 14 kanals and has five ponds and two temples on it.
The Peshawar Hindu Panchayat Rajpot Welfare Society had written to the government appreciating its move to declare it a national heritage site but asked it clear the temples and their surrounding land of encroachments.
The society said it didn’t have its own temple in Peshawar, unlike other Hindu castes that have three to four temples in the city, and its followers have to worship at home.
In the letter, addressed to the president, prime minister, chief justice, interior minister, federal religious affairs and interfaith harmony minister and chairperson of the standing committee of the National Assembly, the society said it had approached the authorities but nothing had been done yet.
Dr Sarah Safdar, the caretaker minister for religious affairs and minorities, had initiated the step to hand over the temple and meetings were scheduled, read the letter. The secretary and deputy secretary of the Evacuees Trust Property Board Lahore had visited and assured the society that the temple would be given to them, however, nothing has been done yet.
Panj Tirath is approximately 2,500 years old and several sections of it have been encroached upon, said the letter. One section has been made into the Chacha Younas Park while on another section the chamber of commerce building has been constructed. The temples are occupied by individuals.
Speaking to SAMAA Digital, Vikram, a representative of the society, said that Panj Tirath is built on 14 kanals of land and that before Pakistan was formed, there were five temples and five wells there where members of the Hindu community would wash before prayers.
Three temples have collapsed due to lack of maintenance, he said. Vikram said they have been trying to get this land for the past four years and have been consulting with the Auqaf department as well as local leaders.
He said they have never felt alienated in Pakistan due to their religion and that the people and government have helped them a lot. However, he said that they just want their own place to pray and requested the government to give them the land.