Islamabad-Before partition of the subcontinent, the Hindu temple of Saidpur model village was opened for religious activities but now it has earned the value of a tourism spot.

However, the Hindu community believes that this novel status has affected the sanctity of this worship place up to some extent. The centuries old Saidpur village is well known for its heritage and tourism attraction.

Located on the slopes of Margallah Hills, this village has become one of the favourite picnic points for local and foreign visitors since it was termed as model village by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The village is told to be 400-year-old and home to several civilizations including Ghandhara, Mughal and others.

According to history, Commander Raja Maan Singh converted the village Saidpur into a religious place and constructed the temple and ponds for the worship purposes. The preserved temple represents the history and culture of Hindu civilization in the region. The nearby situated mosque, temple and Gurdawara are the symbols of a contrasted culture of the village where Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs used to live together. In 2006, the CDA started the work to convert the Saidpur into tourism spot by preserving the heritage of the village with modern technology with the assistance of French government. Later, in 2008 the village was opened for tourists.

Recently, a resident of Rawalpindi from Hindu community has moved a petition in the court seeking directions for the government to maintain the sanctity of the temple.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the government to put restrictions on visitors to remove their shoes while entering the Hindu temple because it hurts the feelings of the community.

According to the petitioner, the negligence of administration in this regard is resulting in the disgrace and humiliation of the temple. The petition stated that visitors enter the temple by wearing their shoes, take pictures inside the temple, and make noise. Advocate Yasir Mehmood, counsel for the petitioner Adil Gill while talking to The Nation said that picture gallery, temple and Gurdawara all were the parts of Haveli which the CDA got evacuated from the locals and restored them for the promotion of tourism in the area.

“Visiting temple is not an issue but keeping the sanctity of the worship place intact matters for every religious community,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior supervisor of Saidpur, Sabir Sultan commented that CDA restored the conditions of the temple after its renovation in 2008 and since then it has been well maintained. “Hindu community has objected to some issues regarding sanctity of the temple and the government has ordered to enforce the decision regarding removing of shoes while entering the temple premises,” he said. But, writings inside the walls of the temple containing names and telephone numbers of the people describes that people are not barred from showing their writing skills inside the temple.

“No religious practice is being performed in this temple but the community has issues on photography and meat cooking in the vicinity of the temple,” said Sabir Sultan.

According to him, the restaurant situated on the entrance of the Haveli is also based on the land of the temple.  Advocate Yasir Mehmood said the articles 20 and 36 of the constitution give protection to the non-Muslims and their worship places. “Though the Hindu community in the city is low in number but this doesn’t justify disgracing of the worship place, while a restaurant has also encroached upon the land of the temple,” he said.

Supervisor Sabir Sultan while talking to The Nation said that the administration here will mark the specific area from where entry while wearing shoes will be not allowed.

However, he added, the area of the temple starts from the entrance of the restaurant.  According to Advocate Yasir Mehmood, the primary objective of the petitioner in the court is only to restore the sanctity of the temple, while in the next step he will work for the handing over of these worship places to the religious communities.

Replying to the query, he said before raising this matter in the court the civic authorities were informed multiple times about the sensitivity of the issue.