A Sikh leader in northwest Pakistan has filed a petition in the Peshawar High Court urging it to direct the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to allocate funds to build a crematorium for the community in the provincial capital so that they can cremate their dead instead of burying them.
Sikh community leader Babaji Guru Gurpal Singh, through his lawyer, submitted the writ petition in the court yesterday, saying the provincial government had allocated Rs 30 million in the 2017-18 budget to build a crematorium for the Sikh community and a graveyard for Christians in the city, the Express Tribune reported.
However, the government has yet to release funds for these projects nor has it made any plans for these projects.
Singh said that about 60,000 Sikhs live in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including 15,000 who live in Peshawar alone. Despite that, there is no crematorium where Sikh mourners can carry out the last rites of their loved ones, the paper reported.
The petitioner noted that the number of cremations is likely to increase in the future.
"Against their religious teachings, they are forced to bury dead one," Singh wrote in his petition, adding that the nearest crematorium is located near Attock, 45 kilometers away from Peshawar.
While cremation is culturally imperative for Sikhs and Hindus, the cost is a major prohibitive factor for them since many middle and low-income members of the community cannot afford the high costs of cremation.
"We are grateful for such a facility," Singh said, adding, "But for the poor members of the community, they cannot even afford to transport the funeral."
The petitioner told the court that for the year 2017-18, the government had allocated money for the minorities, including Rs 2.669 million for arranging an ambulance for the Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh.
But the government, Singh claimed, had now backtracked on its budget promise while other government departments, despite the allocations, too are reluctant to utilise the funds for the listed projects, the paper said.
The petitioner asked the court to direct the government to select a suitable spot to build the crematorium near Peshawar and set up a modern facility, keeping in view the environmental requirements and concerns, so that the community can perform the last rituals of their loved ones without any problem.
Singh's lawyer Muhammad Khurshid said that the Constitution of Pakistan provides that every citizen has the right to life with dignity, at the same time, it is also their innate rights to perform their final rites as per their beliefs.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)