RAWALPINDI, March 1: The revenue department of the city district government has accepted the claim of the Hindu community that their cremation ground at Tipu Road was 10 kanals and 17 marlas, which has now shrunk to just two kanals.
In November 2012, the federal government had written to the Punjab Revenue Board to settle the dispute between the community and the Evacuee Trust Property Board over the measurement of the Shamshan Ghat or cremation ground.
The letter was forwarded to the revenue department of Rawalpindi in January 2013 to verify the land record.
After receiving the letter, Commissioner Imdadullah Bosal directed Assistant Commissioner (Saddar) Zahid Suhail to visit the place and check the revenue record.
In his report, the assistant commissioner said 10 kanals and 17 marlas in Marrir Hassan Qasbati was used for cremation in the past but now it is not being used for this purpose.
He said at present the land was owned by the central government and under the possession of the chairman Auqaf committee Rawalpindi.
Jag Mohan, the president of Pakistan Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council, told Dawn that the revenue record of the temple and Shamshan Ghat verified by the revenue department proved the claim of the community.
However, he disputed the remarks of the assistant commissioner that the land was not used for cremation at the moment.
He added: “A few months back the body of Chotay Lal, a resident of Morgah, was cremated at the same ground. My mother’s body was also cremated there in March last year as well as two foreigners’ bodies in July 2012,” Mr Mohan said.
“Before the partition, the total land of Shamshan Ghat spread over 290 kanals. When a majority of Hindus migrated from the city in 1949, the rehabilitation department gave 10 kanals and 17 marlas to the Hindus, who did not leave Pakistan, for use as a Shamshan Ghat,” he said.
Mr Mohan claimed that the cremation ground was reduced to three kanals and 13 marlas after seven kanals and four marlas were given to different people on lease without consulting the Hindu community.
Wahab Gul, the administrator of the evacuee trust property Rawalpindi zone, could not be contacted.
However, a senior official of the Auqaf department insisted that the two-kanal cremation ground was used by the Hindus of the garrison city as well as Islamabad and the Potohar region.
He said the trust had spent Rs2.5 million on the improvement of the Shamshan Ghat.
He added that there was a dispute between the Hindus and the trust over a building which the former claimed to be a temple.