An ancient Hindu temple located in Pakistan’s Sialkot city, which was sealed for the last 72 years, has been re-opened for devotees.
Shawala Teja Singh temple was shut down during Partition. Protesting against the demolition of the Babri Masjid in India, a mob had reportedly damaged the temple in 1992, following which Hindu pilgrims had stopped visiting it.
Amir Hashmi, the spokesperson of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, which looks after the holy places of minorities in Pakistan, was quoted as saying by PTI that the “ETPB has opened Shawala Teja Singh temple after the Partition on the demand of the local Hindu community”.
The decision to reopen the temple was issued by Paksitan prime minister Imran Khan,
Built by Sardar Teja Singh, Shawala Teja Singh temple is dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva, in Sialkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Pilgrims climb a steep staircase to reach the temple, which according to ‘History of Sialkot’ is about 1,000 years old.
Significance of re-opening Shawala Teja Singh temple for devotees
The re-opening of the Shawala Teja Singh temple is a major decision in favour of the Hindus, who form the biggest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan, with a majority of them settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslims.
ETPB Deputy Director Fraz Abbas told PTI that the restoration work of this temple is still underway and the board is expected to complete it shortly. He added that Indian Hindus will also be able to visit the temple.
Local Hindu leaders Rattan Laal and Rumaish Kumar have welcomed the government’s step to restore the temple and open it for the minority community. “We are thankful to the government for opening our temple,” said a Hindu man while speaking to Samaa TV.
“We can come here whenever we want now,” he added.
In April 2019, the Pakistani government announced that it will reclaim and restore 400 temples to the minority group in Pakistan. According to a recent report by The Organization For World Peace (TOFWP), this “compliments a joint decision by Khan and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to construct the Kartarpur corridor, allowing visa-free access to Hindi pilgrims from India”.
For 72 years, Partition has given rise to continuing conflict between India and Pakistan which is now beginning to show signs of slowing down, a ‘hope’ that’s supported in the TOFWP report which states that 3,000 violations of the peace agreement occurred in 2017, it reduced to 1,000 while in 2018.
Source – First Post