The Capital Development Authority stopped on Friday the construction of the boundary wall on the plot allotted to the Shri Krishna Mandir in Islamabad’s H/9. Once constructed, the temple will be the first place of worship for Hindus in the city.
A team of the authority’s building control department visited the temple site and instructed workers to stop working on the boundary wall.
According to CDA spokesperson Mazhar Hussain, the action was taken because a building plan had not been submitted to the authority. “Any construction taking place in Islamabad, residential or commercial, requires a building plan (map) to be approved.”
Following this, Islamabad’s Hindu Panchayat has halted the construction and decided to visit the CDA office on Monday (July 6) to discuss the matter.
“We had already submitted an application addressed to the authority regarding the boundary wall construction on June 19 but got no response from them,” Hindu Panchayat President Pritam Das told SAMAA Digital.
“The application said that the boundary wall was being built to secure the possession of the plot,” he said, adding that the it did not make sense for the authority to take this step.
The H/9 plot has been in the panchayat’s possession since 2018.
PTI MNA Lal Chand Malhi, on the other hand, said that a building plan for the temple has already been submitted to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which has forwarded it to the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The plan along with the request for a grant of Rs100 million has been sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Malhi said, pointing out that the PM had initially approved the grant. After opposition from clerics, however, it was agreed that a decision will be taken after advice from the Council of Islamic Ideology.
“Once approved, the plan will be sent to the Ministry of Housing and Works who will approve it and then finally give it to the CDA,” he explained, adding that if the CDA approves the plan, the grant will be released by the finance ministry.
The religious affairs ministry in a press conference on Friday said that it only “releases funds for the renovation and rehabilitation of minority’s worship places”, not for construction.
The Hindu Panchayat is constructing the temple from its own finances, the ministry’s spokesperson said, adding that the CII will, however, be consulted on the matter of funds.
This, however, is not the only problem faced by the panchayat during the temple’s construction.
In a tweet on Saturday, Malhi said the Hindu Panchayat has announced that it is discontinuing the temple’s construction, even if the CDA allows it, due to recent cases of violence and destruction of its site.
“On June 23, we filed a request to the Islamabad district commissioner’s office for security to be provided after the temple site was harassed,” he told SAMAA Digital.
Islamabad Hindu Panchayat, in an emergency meeting held today has announced to discontinue #Kirshna #Temple construction work for time being following some unepleasant incidents at the site. So far the boundary wall was being erected with Panchayat resources. @MalBokhari pic.twitter.com/l0M7mVYOTJ— LAL MALHI (@LALMALHI) July 4, 2020
“We, however, got no response from them, nor was any security provided,” Malhi added.
Das pointed out that on Saturday a teenage boy destroyed the boundary wall of the temple. “We have been receiving threats and objections from “Muslim elites and clerics” in the capital ever since construction started. A number of fatwas were also issued.
“They demand that a temple should not be built with the government’s money,” he said.
The video of the temple being attacked went viral on Twitter and garnered a lot of criticism from people across the country. Following this the hashtag #MandirTauBanga has become one of the top trends on the social media platform.
I have never ever felt so hurt, dejected & scared as today after seeing this disturbing video of demolition of temple’s foundation. #Hindus living in #Islamabad are feeling so insecure & are scared.— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) July 5, 2020
When will foundation of hatred & bigotry be demolished?
Islamabad Hindu Panchayat decided to discontinue construction of Krishna Temple in capital due to unpleasant incident at site.— Veengas (@VeengasJ) July 4, 2020
What a state! Hindus cannot build their temple, termed as un-Islamic – and giving lectures to others about Human Rights. #MandirTauBanega
The Shri Krishna Mandir is the first of its type to be built in the capital, according to Das. It will be a worship place for over 3,000 Hindus living in Islamabad.
“The temple will have a complex, community centre and a cremation ground inside it,” he said, adding that it will comprise 10 floors. The temple will also have a ground for celebrations of festivals such as Diwali and Holi.
Das told SAMAA Digital that Hindus did not want to build a temple by clashing with others. The place is meant to be for worship and peace, we don’t want to build it through fights and violence, he said, adding that this was why they stopped the boundary wall construction.