The Chah Syed Munawar Shah Graveyard in the Dera Ismail Khan District of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is a sign and symbol of interfaith harmony and unity. It is the only graveyard in the province allowing people from all the religions to bury their dead.
The Peepal tree is planted there as the Hindus believe that their goddess Lakshmi comes to dwell at it each week and the olive tree is there because it is held dear by believers of Christianity as it is mentioned many times in the scriptures.
Dera Ismail Khan is one of the parts of KP, badly affected by the terrorism and war on terror; however, the people living here hailing from different religions including; Hindus, Christians, Sikh and Muslims have been in a very good and peaceful social bond and this is the reason that their graveyard is also the same for all the people from various faiths.
Talking to Voice of KP, a local of DI-Khan from Hindu community Lal Kumar while throwing light on the history of graveyard said that it all started in the 1960s when there was no Shamshaan Ghat for the Hindu Community and the cost of sending the bodies to Sindh was too high to bear and a logistical nightmare. He said that in order to resolve the issue the Hindu Community approached the community elders and consensus developed that a solution had to found.
The Onsiya family, who has owned the graveyard for nearly 1,000 years, decided to open it to people of all faiths.
Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar a Hindu Pundit said that DI-Khan was an example of interfaith harmony for the entire world as people from all the faiths living here with extreme peace and love since decades.
He said that no doubt DI-Khan once was a hotspot for terrorism and terrorist attacks but through interfaith harmony the people of DI-Khan proved that faith, religion, colour and sect did not matter, but humanity was supreme for them.
However, Ashok Kumar lamented that despite the peace and friendly social system, the Hindu community is yet to get the cremation centre for their dead bodies therefor they carry their dead bodies to Kohat for cremation.
Meanwhile, Iqbal Maseeh a local leader of Christian community said that DI-Khan was a soil of peace for people hailing from various religions. He said that the Muslims and minorities take in each others’ festivals.
Mufti Khalidm, a local religious leader from DI-Khan said that people had a very wrong perception regarding DI-Khan who consider them conservative and non-tolerant.
He said that this is a wrong perception as they respected the humanity beyond colour, sect and religion.
About the Shah Munawar Graveyard, he said that it was a place where people from all faiths were buried since many years as they respect humanity without considering someone’s colour, sect and religion or faith.