Cremation banned? Hindus in Pakistan's DIK forced to bury their dead ever since country's birth

Hindus in Dera Ismail Khan are forced to bury their dead due the unavailability of proper cremation grounds.

Sawan Chudhry, a resident of DI Khan, who had to bury his father Jawarya Chudhry after his death in 1965, says he still regrets not being able to cremate his father's body.

"My father was buried at the Munawar graveyard in Madina Colony. It is unfortunate that his final rites could not be performed according to our faith," The Express Tribune quoted Chudhry, as saying.

"In 1985, Pandith Kahdaree Lal was cremated and he is the only Hindu whose remains were incinerated in the district since the inception of Pakistan," said 67-year-old Chudhry, adding that the ceremony had prior approval from the local government and was performed within the premises of the army cantonment area. RC Sharma, a priest at Balmeek Mandir, said: "Hindus in DI Khan have to bury their dear ones because there are no cremation grounds here. Our relatives in other parts of Pakistan can perform funeral rites according to Hindu custom and we also want to do the same."

The former minority MPA Kishore Kumar, said he had taken up the issue before the Provincial Assembly's Standing Committee on Minorities. He added that the panel has forwarded its recommendations of making cremation places to the federal government.

"Hindus want ownership of the shamshan ghat in Madina Colony, which belonged to the community in the past. If we file a civil suit, it will take years to decide and we cannot wait for so long," Kumar said. Data obtained from the Evacuee Trust Property shows that around 7,000 square yards of the Madina Colony were previously a cremation ground for Hindus.

"After partition all property belonging to Hindus was handed over to the Evacuee Trust Property Board. The community can get ownership of the land, but only if the federal government gives it back to them," an official of the Evacuee Trust Property said. Hindus claims there was another cremation place in Town Hall area, but it was sold for approximately Rs 3 million in an auction, and the ground has now been replaced by a private medical clinic.

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