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“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State ... Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State” - Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
The powerful words of our founder resonate through the land of Pakistan even today, however, time and again we have failed the vision of our founder. Another set back in upholding the rights of our fellow citizens has been exposed recently, through a social media post that went viral on facebook. The post concerned the dilapidated state of the historic Katas Raj Temple. The Katas Raj was nominated as a World Heritage Site by the Pakistani Government in 2007 and holds great reverence for the Hindu community. It has been mentioned in the Mahabharata; the site is recorded to be more than one thousand years ago as a prominent site of spirituality.
However, recently due to factory operations in the area, the fabled pond of the temple has been drying up creating unease and uproar amongst the Hindu community and activists. The issue has been recently covered by media:
Government intervention in restoring the site is awaited. The Constitution of Pakistan states:
Article 20: Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.
Subject to law, public order and morality:-
(a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion; and;
(b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
The current process of deterioration of Katas Raj Temple and the wait for government action is a constitutional issue where the fundamental rights of Hindu community are in constant violation. In this regard, we the undersigned demand the following:
- Katas Raj Temple to be restored to its former glory;
- Nearby factories to be restrained from any further demolition or debilitation of the historic site;
- Mechanism for preservation and restoration of the Katas Raj Temple be institutionalised through relevant government departments.
We urge the Punjab Government to intervene in the matter and uphold the fundamental rights of all citizens as envisioned by our founder.
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