Controversial site: Court stays construction at Shri Laxmi Narain mandir – The Express Tribune
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has issued a stay order on the demolition of the ancient Shri Laxmi Narain Mandir’s structure which has been allegedly ordered by a sitting member of the provincial assembly, himself a Hindu, Mukesh Kumar Chawla.
On Friday, Chief Justice Mushir Alam also appointed the court’s nazir to inspect the site within ten days to find out what had happened and if any construction had taken place.
Kailash Wishram, a resident of one of the residential quarters on the temple’s premises, went to court against the ministry of ports and shipping, the chairman of the Karachi Port Trust, Port Grand and the SHO of Jackson police station.
He claims to be one of the practicing Hindus of a caste, which is not given equal status by other castes.
He said that Shri Laxmi Narain Mandir, located at Native Jetty, off Jinnah Bridge, West Wharf was constructed before Partition. Hindus performed their religious rituals at the temple where access to seawater was one of the essential elements.
His lawyer, Zain Jatoi, stated that access to seawater was being blocked by constructions undertaken by Port Grand and the Karachi Port Trust. This would threaten the place of worship, he argued.
On a specific question from the court, the petitioner contended that this action was being taken at the behest of Mukesh Chawla, who was an MPA and a member of the Hindu Panchayat.
The SHC division bench directed Wishram to add Chawla and the Hindu Panchayat as respondents in the petition.
The bench directed its office to issue notice to the secretary of ports and shipping, the KPT chairman, Port Grand, Sindh Excise & Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla and the Hindu Panchayat within three days.
“In the meanwhile, the mandir, staircase, boundary wall and corridors originally constructed may not be demolished,” said the court. It directed for the matter to be placed before a bench hearing matters related to construction and property. The hearing was adjourned for ten days.
Stairway to heaven
The maharaj of the temple and the Pakistan Hindu Council’s Dr Ramesh Kumar were both unaware of the litigation.
According to the Maharaj, the construction was being done courtesy MPA Mukesh Kumar Chawla. They were building “two sets of stairs and a floor in the middle”. “It will be beautiful,” he said.
“People have said that the route to the temple is being blocked, but this is wrong, no such thing is happening. I have spoken to Mukesh Chawla and he will be visiting the temple in a few days to look at this.”
For his part, Kumar said that the issue was brought up twice with the federal minister for ports, Babar Ghauri. “He said that the Karachi Port Trust would be in touch over the issue and get it resolved,” he told The Express Tribune.
There are only two places in Sindh – Sukkur and Karachi – where Hindus can go to scatter ashes into the water
Calls to Port Grand’s media representative went unanswered