" --Indo-Asian News Service"
Islamabad, Aug 28 - A 79-year old Hindu temple in Rawalpindi may be razed to make way for an educational and housing complex, a media report said Thursday.

The 79-year-old Maharishi Valmik Swamiji Mandir in Rawalpindi's Chaklala cantonment may become a casualty of development work planned in the area, Dawn online reported.

The locality boasts of a large Hindu majority, which has been living in harmony with Christians and Muslims in the area for several decades now.

Being one of three places of worship for the Hindu community, Valmiki Mandir or Balaknash Temple, as it is commonly known, might be razed along with several Hindu residences in the area to make way for the educational and housing complex.

Built in 1935, the temple hosts religious festivals, which are attended by the city's Hindu families.

Notices were issued Aug 12 to the residents of block 141, Gracy Lines, Chaklala, to vacate the area within 10 days.

Fearing that they might lose the temple as well as their houses, the area's Hindus filed a petition with the civil court against the planned demolition and were granted a stay order till Aug 21.

But the order provides them temporary relief as they can live in the area only until Sep 13.

Though we have not received any written notice regarding the temple's demolition, we fear the worst, Ashok Chand, who represents the local Hindu community, was quoted as saying.

According to Chand, the authorities had informed them that the temple might have to be demolished, but they promised to handle the matter amicably.

The officials assured the Hindus that they would build a new temple wherever the residents of Gracy Lines were relocated, even if it costs Rs.2 million (around $19,800).

This is the locality of the poor Hindus, and the temple is their only place of worship in the area. They have been living here for the last 82 years, they should not be asked to shift like this, Member of the National Assembly from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Isphanyar M. Bhandara said.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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