Before court settles her claim to temple: Hindu woman wants to celebrate Diwali

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday asked the federal and provincial governments and the district coordination officer whether the local Hindu community could be allowed to celebrate the festival of Diwali in an ancient temple in the city.A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Sardar Shaukat Hayat, directed the concerned officials to assist it in the matter arising from an application of an old Hindu lady, Phool Vatte, claiming the ownership of the temple in Khor Khutree sector of the city.While the court was considering suo motu action on her application, the lady pleaded that in the meantime her community be allowed to celebrate Diwali at the temple on Nov 6.The court fixed the next hearing for Nov 2.Ms Vatte claimed in her application that her family was the caretaker of the temple before the creation of Pakistan and its title to the temple should be restored.The applicant stated that in 2002 the department of archeology had taken possession of the said temple.She stated that the temple had precious ancient statues and a trident made of gold, which were also taken away by the department.

The applicant also stated that they had moved a civil court for seeking ownership of the temple and adjacent living quarter, measuring around four kanal, but the court had dismissed her plea on the ground of lack of jurisdiction to hear it.Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Khursheed stated that the said temple was an archaeological site and due to same reason the department had taken its possession so as to preserve it. He added that the property was first taken over by the Evacuee Trust Board after creation of Pakistan following which its possession was handed over to the archaeology department.

The DAG stated that the claim of ownership of the said temple by the applicant was disputable as they were only caretakers and had no legal status to claim its ownership.He added that in return of the said property the government had earlier allocated residences to the members of the Hindu community residing there.He stated that if the applicant could even gather 50 persons there, they would provide security to them.A local leader of minority communities, Pervez Masih, stated that the question was not about whether they could gather 50 or more persons, it was faith and their respective festivals.He added that if the temple belonged to the applicant it may be handed over to her – Dawan