Pakistan's Supreme Court today expressed concern over the absence of statues of Lord Ram and Hanuman in the historic Katas Raj temple complex in Chakwal district of Punjab province.
Hearing a suo motu case on the drying out of the sacred pond in the temple complex, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar asked, "Do the authorities even have the idols or have they been displaced?"
The issue was taken up by Justice Nisar on the basis of media reports that the Katas Raj pond was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of borewells, severely reducing the sub-soil water level.
During today's hearing, three-member bench headed by Justice Nisar termed the cement factories in the area as "destructive", and demanded to know the names of the factories that are located near the temple, Dawn reported.
Punjab government's counsel told the court that Best Way Cement Factory Chakwal, Ghareeb Wall Factory and DG Khan Cement were among the factories near the temple, the paper said.
The lawyer representing Evacuee Trust Property Board blamed former chairman Asif Hashmi for the current state of affairs.
"Asif Hashmi earned millions of rupees from corruption (during his tenure) and then ran away (from the country)," the lawyer claimed.
Justice Nisar responded by asking why Hashmi had not been arrested, saying that the court can summon home secretary of Punjab and foreign secretary for answers, the paper said.
The Chief Justice also barred lower courts from hearing any petitions regarding the ongoing case, it added.
The hearing of the case was adjourned until tomorrow.
Last month, the bench had directed the government to form a committee to probe the issue of drying of temple pond.
The Katas Raj temple is one of the Hindu community's most well-known places of worship. The name 'Katas' is derived from Kataksha, a Sanskrit word meaning 'tearful eyes'.
According to legend, the sacred pond was formed after lord Shiva wept upon the death of his wife Satti.
BJP leader L K Advani during his trip to Pakistan in 2005 also visited Katas Raj and inaugurated conservation work being carried out by the government of Pakistan.