Ancient Hindu temple demolished in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for commercial complex

NewsBharati    13-Apr-2024 13:16:34 PM
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Islamabad, April 13: In yet another demolition of Hindu religious places, a historical Hindu temple near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been demolished for a commercial complex. This has sparked outrage among local communities and highlighting concerns over the preservation of religious heritage.
hindu temple demolished Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 

The 'Khyber Temple,' located in the border town of Landi Kotal Bazaar in the Khyber district, had remained closed since 1947. Over the years, the temple had been gradually disappearing. Now, it has been demolished and construction for a commercial complex started at the site about 10-15 days ago. Various administrative departments either denied knowledge of the temple's existence or claimed that the construction complied with regulations.

Temple existed: Journalist, Organizations

However, tribal journalist Ibrahim Shinwari affirmed the temple's historical significance, noting its presence in Landi Kotal Bazaar since ancient times.

"The temple was located in the centre of the Landi Kotal Bazaar, which was closed in 1947 after the local Hindu families migrated to India. It was partially damaged by some clerics and seminarians in 1992 following the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in India," he said. Recalling that as a child, he heard many stories about the temple from his forefathers, the journalist said, “There is no doubt in it that there was a temple named 'Khyber Temple' in Landi Kotal.”

Haroon Sarabdiyal of the Pakistan Hindu Mandir Management Committee stressed the government's responsibility to protect and rehabilitate such historical buildings of religious importance to non-Muslims. He cited the 2016 antiquity law, which mandates the preservation of sites like the Khyber Temple. "The archaeology and museums department, police, culture department, and local government were bound by the 2016 antiquity law to protect such sites, including places of worship," he said.

Tribal elder Ibrahim Shinwari disputed the administration's claims of no official record, highlighting the temple's existence as a cornerstone of local heritage. “It is the responsibility of the auqaf department to maintain and preserve historical non-Muslim places of worship, but the department had no office or employees in the Khyber tribal district,” Shinwari said and added, “Many aged tribal elders would bear testimony to this fact that there was a temple in main Landi Kotal Bazaar.”

Ignorance by Pakistani authorities

However, officials from the Landi Kotal administration expressed ignorance about the temple's demolition, stating that there was no mention of it in official land records. Despite this, permits for commercial construction were granted, highlighting gaps in record-keeping and regulatory oversight.

Former Landi Kotal Tehsil Municipal Officer Abdus Samad and current officials admitted to lacking authentic revenue records, raising concerns about accountability and preservation efforts.