Mismanagement of Minority Shrines: Pakistan Supreme Court Removes ETPB Chairman

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), established in 1960, is a statutory board of the Government of Pakistan, which administers evacuee properties and shrines of Hindus and Sikhs attached to religious, charitable or educational trusts left behind by Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India after 1947 partition of India. ETPB chairman is under fire for alleged mismanaged and the Pakistan Supreme court has quashed his appointed after reports of an ancient Hindu pond, named the Katas Raj, drying up.

File Photo: Katas Raj ruins in Pakistan

A Pakistani Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on January 31 quashed the appointment of Siddiqul Farooq as chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). It is learnt that the Pakistani Supreme Court has stated of disclosing the reasons of Farooq’s quashing later.

File Photo: Siddiqul Farooq

The Pakistani Supreme Court addressed this verdict while hearing the suo moto case over Katas Raj and the drying up of its sacred pond. The Amrit Kund or sacred pond at Katas Raj is said to be drying out because large quantity of groundwater is being drawn by nearby cement factories through hundreds of bore wells. This has resulted in severe reduction of subsoil water level in the area around the temple.

Media reports reveal that the Pakistani Supreme Court had summoned Farooq on January 31 over his appointment and role in the ETPB. When he appeared before the bench, Farooq said that he had earlier worked at the PML-N office, which the chief justice would visit sometimes. Following this, Chief Justice Nisar directed the federal government of Pakistan to remove him from the post and to appoint an apolitical person. The chief justice also said that protecting minorities “is part of our religion”.

Since the start of the proceedings on the Katas Raj pond drying up case, the SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had raised several questions over Farooq’s competency as ETPB chairman. During previous hearings, the bench had berated him over his negligence and he was even fined Rs 20,000 for not submitting a reply on time.

Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), established in 1960, is a statutory board of the Government of Pakistan, which administers evacuee properties and shrines of Hindus and Sikhs attached to religious, charitable or educational trusts left behind by Hindus & Sikhs who migrated to India after 1947 partition of India. 

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