1,200-year-old Hindu temple in Pakistan opened to public after reclaiming from Christian occupants

News Network
August 4, 2022

Lahore, Aug 4: A 1,200-year-old Hindu temple here in the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province has been formally opened to the public after it was reclaimed from a Christian family following a lengthy court battle, according to a federal body.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), the federal body overseeing minority worship places in Pakistan, last month reclaimed possession of the Valmiki Temple situated near the famous Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore from a Christian family, which had grabbed the place of worship more than two decades ago.

Besides the Krishna Temple, the Valmiki Temple is the prominent Hindu temple in Lahore.

The Christian family, which claims to have converted to Hinduism, had been facilitating only the Valmiki caste Hindus for worship at the temple for the last two decades.

ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi said Valmiki Temple was formally inaugurated on Wednesday with over 100 Hindus, some Sikh, Christian and Muslim leaders gathered there to celebrate the occasion.

Talking to PTI on Thursday, Hashmi said the Hindu devotees performed their religious rituals and had langar (food) for the first time it was retrieved from the grabbers.

"Valmiki Temple will be fully restored in accordance with a master plan in the coming days," the spokesperson said.

The ETPB said the temple’s land was transferred to it in the revenue record, but the family 2010-2011, claiming to be the owner of the property, filed a case in a civil court.

Besides going into litigation, the family also made the temple only for the Valmiki Hindus, it said.

This left the ETPB with no option but to fight the case in court.

“This time, the court also reprimanded the petitioner for false claims,” the ETPB added.

Pakistan Hindu Mandir Management Committee (PHMMC) President Krishan Sharma said the ETPB'S move was a goodwill gesture and also a step towards mainstreaming the community and should be applauded, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The Valmiki sect of Hindus are a poor segment of the society who have no say or access, Sharma explained, adding they had regained access to this temple now.

“The role of Valmikis is very significant in Hindu mythology; had they not written the Ramayan, no one would know Ram. Earlier, this temple was not being used for worship, those possessing it didn’t allow anyone to enter. But now, every Hindu can come in and pray,” he added.

“We’re making efforts to promote religious tourism and rehabilitate many other temples and religious sites across the country. There are issues everywhere in the world, which are exploited by inimical forces in the region. So, such steps could silence them and counter their narrative,” Sharma added.

In 1992, in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in India, an angry mob wielding weapons stormed into the Valmiki Temple. It smashed the idols of Krishna and Valmiki, broke utensils and crockery in the kitchen and seized the gold with which the statues were embellished.

The temple was demolished to rubble and the building was set on fire. The shops in the neighbourhood also caught fire and it took days for the authorities to extinguish the flames.

The ETPB spokesman told the Dawn newspaper that a one-person commission constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan presented its recommendations to the government, stating that the temple must be renovated to provide better workshop facilities to the Hindu community.

But the ETPB, in the wake of the litigation, was unable to start restoration work at the temple constructed on 0.025 hectares worth millions in the heart of the city, the spokesperson said.

The ETPB looks after the temples and land left over by Sikhs and Hindus who migrated to India after the Partition. It oversees 200 Gurdwaras and 150 temples across Pakistan. 

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News Network
August 9,2022

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Bengaluru, Aug 9: A fresh controversy has erupted after Karnataka Congress leader and MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan on Monday said that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations should not be allowed at the site on which the Idgah Maidan stands in Bengaluru's Chamarajpet.

This statement comes after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Saturday passed an order stating that the ownership of the Idgah Maidan near Bengaluru's Chamarajpet belongs to the Revenue department and not the Wakf board.

The former Karnataka Minister, who visited the Idgah Maidan, announced that for the first time in the history the tricolor is being hoisted at the premises of Idgah Maidan.

"The national flag will be hoisted on every occasion of Independence Day and the Republic Day. The Kannada flag will be hoisted on November 1. But Ganesh Chaturthi won't be celebrated here," he said.

He added that he visited the Idgah Maidan with the sole aim of planning for grand celebrations of the 75th Independence day.

Commeting on the BBMP's order which said Idgah Maidan is the property of the Revenue department, the Congress MLA said that the matter will be taken care by the State Wakf board.

Zameer alleged that the media is involved in provoking people over the issue and creating confusion regarding the Idgah Maidan controversy.

However, various Hindutva groups have demanded that since the land on which the Idgah Maidan stands was earlier a playground and the property belongs to the state government, therefore they must be allowed to celebrate Hindu festivals at the site.

The Hindutva groups have also demanded that if the Idgah tower is demolished from the site then it would not lead to communal clashes in future.

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News Network
August 5,2022

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New Delhi, Aug 5: Congress interim president and MP Sonia Gandhi is leading a protest of party MPs against inflation and unemployment in Parliament. 

Congress MPs are wearing black clothes in protest against rising prices. "This protest is about price rise and Agnipath. Price rise affects everybody. As a political party and as elected representatives we are bound to voice the grievances, the burdens and the fears of the people. This is what we are doing," Congress MP and senior leader P Chidambaram. 

"Inflation has risen beyond the limit. The government will have to do something about it. This is why we're fighting," Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said. 

The party is holding nationwide protests against price rise, unemployment and the GST hike on essential items today. It will take out a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and 'gherao' the prime minister's residence as part of the protest. 

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News Network
August 11,2022

Mangaluru, Aug 11: Three key accused in the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru murder case have been arrested, a senior police officer said.

With this, the number of arrested has gone up to 10.

"Yes they have been arrested. We will share details later...," Rishikesh Bhagwan Sonwane, the superintendent of police of Dakshina Kannada rural district said.

Police sources said the trio, who had allegedly hacked Nettaru to death three weeks ago in Nettaru village near Bellare in Dakshina Kannada district, were arrested from neighbouring Kerala.

Those arrested persons hail from Sullya and Puttur in Dakshina Kannada district, they added.

The assailants had allegedly used a motorbike which had a Kerala registration.

The murder three weeks ago had led to communal tension in this communally-sensitive district. The hardline Hindutva activists had alleged that Muslim fundamentalists were behind the murder. 

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