Shrines become centre of illegal activities


In a sheer contradiction of the teachings and philosophy of Sufis, shrines are fast becoming hub for unlawful activities due to the negligence of authorities concerned, as illegal occupants have become caretakers of some shrines, who are not even cognizant of the values and teachings of the respective saint whose tomb they are looking after.
It has been learnt that some people who have become caretakers of the shrines even do not know the names of the saints on whom shrine they are serving. The shrine of Baba Sahheed Kahu on the Kashmir Highway is one of them, where officials never try to inspect what is going on.
During a chat with Pakistan Today, the custodian, known as Baba, said he had been living at the shrine for last three years. But when this scribe asked him about the actual history and name of Baba Shaheed Kahu, he could just reply that it was a blessing of Allah and the Sufi saint, which made him able to serve at the shrine. “No one can live here without their permission,” he said, adding that he had been selected to ensure sanctity of the shrine.
Baba has neither been appointed by any authority nor by the heirs of the Sufi saint. He has installed three to four boxes to collect money from the faithful and also made a separate room at the shrine to live.
Does any government official know about the said Baba and whether the construction of room and fencing the area by grille is a legal action will remain a mystery until the concerned quarters get ready to fulfill their duty of keeping a check on shrines. Ali Shah, the son of Sufi saint Syed Asghar Shah whose shrine is also located on the Kashmir Highway, told Pakistan Today that spiritualism did not meant for using it for vested interests. “I have not made any room nor do any illegal construction on the shrine of my father because such practice will be against the teachings of Sufi saints,” he said.
He was of the view that the society could play its role to stop practices not allowed by Islam and Shariah. Many other shrines are also present in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which has also become a safe haven for the drug addicts. The drug peddlers roam freely at the shrines and attract the innocent people towards different drugs like hashish and heroin.
Talking to Pakistan Today, one of the faithful said that he had been visiting the shrine of Bari Imam for last many years and he always found many drug addicts sitting there without any fear of law enforcement agencies. He said while the government was taking steps against religious fundamentalists, it should also crack down on such ‘saints’ and drug peddlers, who were using these holy places as cover for their illegal businesses. Another citizen said the drug peddlers were destroying the future generations, adding that these shrines were becoming breeding grounds for criminals.
He urged the authorities to apprehend the fake saints, ‘pirs’ and ‘fakirs’ who used the shrines as covers for their crimes. He added that only pilgrims or visitors should be allowed to visit, but not to stay at the shrines.
A CDA official, seeking anonymity, told Pakistan Today that most of the caretakers living at the shrines in the capital city had been enjoying good relations with influential people due to which the authorities seemed helpless to take any action against illegal constructions at the shrines.