Friday Nov 12, 2021
November 8 of this current year could be considered a much-needed achievement for the patriotic non-Muslim minority community due to the fact that Pakistani Hindu community, after a long peaceful struggle, succeeded in defeating the forces of darkness and mischief.
This year's Diwali festival in Pakistan actually brought an end to the darkness when the Samadhi (shrine) of Shri Param Hansji Maharaj, a philanthropist and God-fearing Hindu saint located in Teri in the Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was decorated with colourful lights after a long time.
Celebrating the festival of lights there was not an easy task but the result of a long and tireless struggle in which I was supported by our judiciary, media and civil society and, above all, the local population of the area. They endorsed my stance that Pakistani non-Muslim communities should be guaranteed complete freedom to live happily and celebrate their religious festivals according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and the constitution of Pakistan.
No doubt, Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed has won the hearts of the oppressed people across the country by accepting the invitation of the Pakistan Hindu Council to join the Diwali festival as chief guest. He practically proved that every possible step is being taken to protect the rights of minorities, and the nation cannot be left at the mercy of some unwanted elements whose aim is to foster hatred. His participation reflected that all citizens have equal constitutional rights in the eyes of the state, and the highest institutions are committed to eradicating extremism.
While attending Shri Param Hansji Maharaj's Samadhi, I had the feeling that I had gone back one hundred years when there was always a rush of people at his Ashram. Shri Maharaj was a God-fearing pious man who believed only in serving humanity without any bias. His followers belong to different religions. He had established Krishna Dwara temples/ashrams in various parts of British India. He was buried in the Teri area of the Karak district, where his Samadhi and temple were established in 1919. His followers are spread all over the world including Pakistan and are proactively participating in welfare and charity activities.
When the British left, an atmosphere of fear and panic prevailed in the Subcontinent and the local Hindu population preferred to migrate from there. Like other holy places of worship, this Samadhi too was thrown into darkness, and then in 1997 it was encroached by a local religious group. After a long legal battle from the platform of the Pakistan Hindu Council, my efforts to restore the Samadhi as per the orders of the Supreme Court began to bear fruit. Unfortunately, a violent mob made it a target on December 31, 2020 by violating the sanctity of the place. Demolishing the Samadhi has once again created an atmosphere of fear in the area. Many locals personally approached me to condemn this heinous incident.
Today, under the orders of the Supreme Court, Shri Param Hans Ji Maharaj Samadhi/Teri Temple is not only fully restored but the local population is also very happy with the arrival of Hindu pilgrims. When we reached there to celebrate Diwali, we were warmly welcomed by the locals. They believed that Hindu pilgrims would play their due role in the development and prosperity of the region. In my speech in the presence of the CJP, I also considered it my moral duty to highlight the issues facing the local population. In my view, it is very unfair to deprive the local people of basic amenities.
The restoration is a lesson for every peace loving person that one should not be frightened by difficulties and hurdles. At every turn in life, we must remember that the ultimate victory is always of truth, light and justice.
The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council. Twitter: @RVankwani
Originally published in The News