January 5th, 2021
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 5, issued orders to the chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to complete the reconstruction of the historic Krishna Dwara temple adjacent to the shrine of Guru Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj in the Terri area of Karak within two weeks.
The temple was a popular pilgrimage site for Hindu worshippers. On December 30, the building was razed to the ground by a Muslim mob, prompting the Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to take suo motu notice of the incident.
The Krishna Dwara temple was erected to mark the resting place of Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj in 1919 but was sealed after the partition of the sub-continent in 1947. In 2015, the Supreme Court had ordered for the restoration of the temple however community leaders claim local residents were displeased by the construction work, especially in concern with an extension to the site.
A One-Man Commission on Minority Rights submitted its findings to a three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice in Tuesday’s hearing and recommended an inquiry into the incident as well as immediate collation of testimonies and evidence pertaining to the incident. Shoaib Suddle who spearheaded the commission maintained that local cleric Maulvi Sharif, who is associated with the Sunni-Deobandi party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, had incited the mob.
During the hearing, MPA and patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar Vankwani claimed that Maulvi Sharif had the temple torn down in 1997, and despite the apex court’s orders to restore the building, the ETPB did not fulfill its duties. Rather, the Pakistan Hindu Council had raised a sum of Rs. 40 million to reconstruct the temple itself.
Expressing its displeasure with the performance of the ETPB, the apex court ordered the KP chairman to hand in details of all cases against properties under the board’s control, including all functioning and non-functioning temples, as well as a performance report of the chairman himself. Furthermore, the bench ordered action against any ETBP officials found involved in the illegal seizure of protected properties.
Following the incident, an FIR was registered against 300 persons on the complaint of Terri Station House Officer (SHO) Rehmatullah. In a December 31 statement by the KP Inspector General (IG) Sanaullah Abbasi, 31 suspects were apprehended by the police while others were still being identified via video footage of the incident. During Tuesday’s hearing, Abbasi stated that a superintendent of police (SP) and a deputy superintendent (DSP) was suspended for negligence, while a total of 109 suspects have been identified and detained so far.