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ISLAMABAD: The top court has expressed its anger over the Punjab government’s failure to ensure the presence of idols at Hindu temples in Katas Raj, Chakwal.
The court on Tuesday observed that the provincial administration was showing negligence since members of the Hindu community from the world over were visiting the historic temple but find it bereft of idols.
What impression of Pakistan would they have if they do not find idols in the temple, the court asked. It also observed that the authorities were violating the court’s order by not ensuring the presence of idols in the temple.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, is hearing a suo motu case about the pond of the fabled Katas Raj Temples drying up.
The pond — believed to have been created from the teardrops of Shiva and regarded as sacred by the Hindus — is said to be drying out because the large amounts of water sucked by nearby cement factories which have allegedly drilled hundreds of bores, severely reducing the subsoil water level.
Moreover, due to the absence of proper water supply mechanism for locals living in Katas Waulah and the city of Choa Saidan Shah, nearly all the houses have their own tube wells sucking the water.
The problem was exacerbated by the unreasonable plantation of eucalyptus trees in the region
The bench on Tuesday ordered the Chakwal District Commissioner to stop all tube wells operated by a local cement factory.
The court also barred lower courts from adjudicating in the matter, with the chief justice observing that lower courts are not authorised to hear any case which has been taken up in the apex court.
The bench further observed that factories had ruined the beauty of the area.
The Punjab government, in the meanwhile, told the bench that four factories are located in the area. The bench also hinted that it may summon a prominent owner of a cement factory in the case.
Meanwhile, Ikram Chaudhry — a representative of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) — alleged that the body’s former chairman, Asif Hashmi, was responsible for the poor state of affairs at the Katas Raj Temples.
Chaudhry added that Hashmi had allegedly earned millions from corruption before leaving the country.
On this, the bench wondered why Hashmi has not been arrested, adding that the court can summon the Punjab home secretary and the foreign secretary for answers.
The hearing of the case was adjourned until today (Wednesday).