In an atmosphere of mistrust between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of terror attacks on Pathankot and Dinanagar, Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has made extensive security arrangements for Hindu pilgrims who are likely to visit Pakistan Katasraj to celebrate Mahashivratri from March 5 to 11. In previous year Indian pilgrims skipped Shivratri festival in Katasraj amid security concerns.
ETPB chairman Siddiq-ul-Farooq said to media on Wednesday, “This is for the first time that ETPB has convened an emergency meeting of the concerned departments, including police and Pakistan Rangers, to discuss security of the visiting devotees. I have also convened another meeting to give final touches to the security arrangements and our line of action ahead of Hindu jatha (group of pilgrims) arrival.” But, still an atmosphere of Islamic terror prevails in the mind of Hindu pilgrims of Pakistan and neighboring India both.
Agreeing that recent terror attacks had created some sense of insecurity, Farooq said, “We will ensure to make fool proof security arrangements during the Hindu jatha’s visit.” In 2012, Hindu organizations in India had cancelled their proposed pilgrimage to Pakistan for want of security assurance from its government. “I have written to Indian high commissioner in Islamabad and Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi regarding security of Hindu pilgrims,” the ETPB chairman said.
Farooq said he had recommended increasing number of Hindu pilgrims to 500 from 200. He said that a 36-room sarai (lodge) was under construction at Katasraj which would be completed by June 2016. “We are carrying out various developmental works which Hindu devotees would see by themselves,” he said. ETPB chairman claimed that the board had already carried out development of Krishna temple and the only “Hindu cremation ground” in Lahore.
Katasraj Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has, according to Hindu legend, existed since the days ofMahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site and later Krishna himself laid the foundation of this temple and established his hand made Shiv ling in it. The Pakistan Government is considering nominating the temple complex forWorld Heritage Site status. In 2007, it also proposed to restore the temple complex. In 2012, the temple pond is drying up due to heavy use of ground water for industrial purposes.
Hindus and Hindu temple sites in Pakistan are under severe Islamic threat perception.