1,200-year-old Hindu temple in Pakistan to be restored after eviction of illegal occupants

Lahore: A 1,200-year-old Hindu temple in Pakistan is set to be restored after "illegal occupants" were evicted from it following a lengthy court battle. The development was confirmed by the federal body overseeing minority worship places in the country.

The possession of Valmiki Mandir (temple) situated near the famous Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore was last month retrieved from a Christian family.

Besides Krishna Temple, Valmiki Temple is the only functional 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.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) spokesperson Amir Hashmi said that Valmiki Temple will be restored in accordance with a ‘master plan' in the coming days.

“Over 100 Hindus, some Sikh and Christian leaders today gathered at the Valmiki Temple. Hindus performed their religious rituals and had lungar (food) for the first time it was retrieved from the grabbers,” he said.

The Christian family had grabbed the temple more than twenty years ago.

An ETPB official told Dawn newspaper, that the temple’s land was transferred to the ETPB in the revenue record, but the family in 2010-2011, claiming to be the owner of the property, filed a case in the civil court.

He said besides going into litigation, the family also made the temple only for the Valmiki Hindus. This left the trust with no option but to fight the case in court.

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