Pakistan opens historic Hindu temple in Punjab for worship after 72 years

Lahore: Pakistan has opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in eastern city Sialkot for “worship” for the first time since partition on the demand of the local Hindu community, officials said on Monday.

The Shawala Teja Singh temple, located in city’s congested Dhaarowal locality, some 100-km from Lahore, is more than 1,000 years old, according to the book ‘History of Sialkot’ by the late Rashid Niaz.

“The Evacuee Trust Property Board, which looks after the holy places of minorities in Pakistan, has opened Shawala Teja Singh temple after the partition on the demand of the local Hindu community,” ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi told PTI.

He said since there was no Hindu population earlier residing in the city the temple was closed for worship.

“The temple was partially damaged during attacks on temples here in reaction to Babri Mosque in 1992,” he said, adding that the ETPB carried out restoration work of the temple on the direction of Board chairman Dr Amir Ahmed recently.

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.

“The temple has been opened for worship for the first time since partition. Some 2,000 Hindus are residing in this locality and they are so happy to visit their centuries old worship place. Now a good number of local Hindus are visiting it. Hindus from other parts of the country are also expected to visit this temple,” he said.

Abbas said the visiting Indian Hindus will also be taken to this 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.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows.