Pakistan has opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in Sialkot for 'worship' for the first time since partition on demand of the local Hindu community, officials said.
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 ‘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, Mr. Amir Hashmi, said.
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 here in reaction to Babri Mosque demolition in 1992,' he said.
The ETPB carried out restoration work of the temple on the direction of Board chairman, Dr Amir Ahmed, recently.
Its Deputy Director, Mr. Fraz Abbas, said the temple restoration work is still under way 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,' he said.
Mr. Abbas said the visiting Indian Hindus will also be taken to this temple.
Local Hindu leaders, Mr. Rattan Laal and Mr. Rumaish Kumar, have welcomed the government’s step to restore the temple.
According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.