“Representatives of the Hindu community … wrote to all the chief ministers of the four provinces [about the occupied temples] but have not received a response yet…. [They] urged the government to hand over these religious places to the Hindu community to mitigate their resentment and fear of being forced to leave their homeland.” - Zahid Gishkori
Another shocking figure disclosed in the survey conducted by the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) was that only 20 Hindu temples out of the 428 places of worship are operational.
“The remaining places of worship have been leased for commercial and residential purposes by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), said PHRM Chairman Haroon Sarab Diyal. The 135,000 acres of land owned by around four million Hindus is now under ETPB’s control.
Representatives of the Hindu community also wrote to all the chief ministers of the four provinces but have not received a response yet, Diyal added. He urged the government to hand over these religious places to the Hindu community to mitigate their resentment and fear of being forced to leave their homeland.
Sharing documents with The Express Tribune, he revealed that Kali Bari Hindu Temple has been rented out to a Muslim party in Dera Ismail Khan. This historic temple is being used as Taj Mehal Hotel, he added.
The documents also allege that Frontier Constabulary officials, with the help of the ETPB, occupied the Shamshan Ghat, also in Dera Ismail Khan. The Hindu community is unable to cremate their dead because of the unavailability of Shamshan Ghat and is forced to bury them in a graveyard shared my members of other faiths.
Government Girls High School, Peshawar Cantt, now stands where a historical Hindu temple used to be; other historic temples such as the Asamai temple has been closed down in the K-P capital.
Meanwhile, Guru Duwara Gali, a Sikh religious place, has been converted into a garments shop in Abbottabad.
In the federal capital, Islamabad, the Raam Kunde Complex of Temples at SaidPur Model village is now a ‘picnic site’. A second temple at Rawal Dam, Islamabad, has been shut down and the Hindu community believes that it is going to dilapidate day by day without being handed over to them.
In Punjab, a Hindu temple was demolished and reconstructed as a community centre in Rawalpindi, while in Chakwal, ten famous temples collectively known as Bhuwan are being used by the local Muslim community for commercial purposes, despite being handed over to the Hindus.
“Even if we have control of the temples, local residents dump oil drums, utensils and animals around them,” complained Diyal.
However, Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf assured that the Evacuee Trust has already been directed to gather the data pertaining to all religious places owned by minority communities. “At least, [all this] did not happen during our government’s tenure,” he said when he was informed of the survey’s findings. “I’ll take up this matter with minorities’ leaders. It’s a serious matter.”
A committee will be constituted to address these concerns, he routinely added. – The Express Tribune, 25 March 2014
» Zahid Gishkori is a reporter for the national desk of The Express Tribune in Islamabad who tweets @ZahidGishkori
ABOVE: Hindu temple without signage or symbols in Saidpur, Pakistan. BELOW: Hindu temple burned down by Muslim bigots in Larkana, Pakistan.
March 29, 2014: A Hindu temple has been desecrated and set on fire by unidentified persons in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, two weeks ahead of an annual fair at the holy site. The caretaker of the temple of Hindu deity Hanuman, in Latifabad town told police that three men came on Friday to offer prayers.
“But after offering prayers they first broke a statue of Hanuman and then sprayed kerosene oil and set it on fire,” said a police official. Darshan, the interim caretaker of the temple, said the attackers ran away when he called for help.
The miscreants had covered their faces, thus could not be identified, he added. The attack came weeks ahead of the April 14 fair organised at the temple every year. Around 500-600 scheduled caste Hindu families inhabit the locality the temple is situated in. They staged protests at several places in the city.
The initial investigations suggest the attack is not related to any communal strife. The local Deputy Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer have been suspended and an FIR has been lodged against three unidentified attackers, said DIG Sanaullah Abbassi.
On March 15, a frenzied mob had set on fire a temple and a dharamshala [rest house] in Larkana over alleged desecration of a holy book, prompting authorities to impose a curfew in the area. Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan, but make up only about two per cent of the country’s 180 million population.
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