Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Pakistan Demolishes Ancient Hindu Temple in Khyber District – N.F Times

New Delhi: An ancient Hindu temple, known as the “Khyber Temple”, located in the border town of Landi Kotal Bazaar in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has been demolished by Pakistan government officials.

The temple, which had been closed since 1947 following the migration of its original Hindu occupants to India, was razed to make way for a commercial complex. The temple was situated near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The demolition work, which began about ten to fifteen days ago, has led to the gradual disappearance of the temple. Several administrative divisions have either denied knowledge of the temple’s existence or claimed that the construction work was proceeding lawfully.

Ibrahim Shinwari, a leading tribal journalist from Landi Kotal, confirmed the existence of the temple in the heart of Landi Kotal Bazaar. He recalled hearing stories about the temple from his forefathers and stated clearly that the ‘Khyber Temple’ was indeed located in Landi Kotal. He also mentioned that the temple was partially damaged by some clerics and seminarians in 1992 following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in India.

Haroon Sarabdiyal of the Pakistan Hindu Mandir Management Committee emphasised the responsibility of the district administration and relevant government departments to protect and rehabilitate historical buildings of religious significance to non-Muslims. He pointed out that the archaeology and museums department, police, culture department, and local government were obligated by the 2016 antiquity law to safeguard such sites.

However, Assistant Commissioner Landi Kotal, Muhammad Irshad, expressed ignorance about the temple’s demolition and stated that there was no mention of the temple in the official land record of the Khyber tribal district. He said that the entire land in Landi Kotal Bazaar was state-owned and that a ‘no objection certificate’ had been issued to the builder for the renovation and repair of some old shops in the bazaar.

Shinwari questioned the claims of the district administration at Khyber and the municipal authorities regarding the absence of an official land record of the temple. He stressed that it was 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.

Many elderly tribal people in the province accept the presence of the temple at the site.

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