New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Around the same time that Turkey was converting the historic Chora church of Istanbul into a mosque, Pakistan demolished an old Hanuman temple in Lyari, Karachi. Also demolished were the homes of about 20 Hindu families that lived near the temple.
After Hindus from the locality gathered around the rubble of the ancient temple and protested, police made investigations and sealed the area. Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune reported that Lyari’s Assistant Commissioner Abdul Karim Memon has ordered a probe against the builder who has demolished the temple.
Locals said that a builder had allegedly purchased the land around the temple and wanted to build a residential complex. Though he had promised the Hindus that the temple would not be touched, he demolished the temple and Hindu homes amid a coronavirus induced lockdown.
Mohammad Irshad Baloch, a local, told The Express Tribune: “It is an injustice as a place of worship has been destroyed. It was an old temple. We have been seeing it since we were children.”
Another resident, Harsh said: “No one was allowed to visit the temple during the lockdown. He (the builder) exploited the situation (of the pandemic) and demolished our place of worship while we could not visit it”, and demanded that the temple be restored. He added that the families living around it were even assured of alternative housing.
Mohan Lal, a Hindu activist, accused the builder of threatening members of the minority community who had assembled at the site and highlighted the temple’s demolition. “We tried to enter the temple but were denied entry by the builder,” he narrated.
Interestingly, the South Deputy Commissioner Irshad Ahmed Sodhar told The Express Tribune that there had been two temples earlier, but one had been removed earlier. Promising justice, Sodhar said: “A committee will be formed for the purpose, including an archaeologist, and the probe will be completed within seven days. We will ensure that everyone will get justice.”
Brick by brick, Pakistan has been getting rid of its Hindu heritage. Its Hindu minority – a handful in number, lies battered in a few pockets under the fear of conversions and kidnappings of women. With every passing year, the numbers have been dwindling.
Since the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan has made vigorous efforts to shake off thousands of years of rich Hindu, Jain and Buddhist history that dominated the region before Islam took roots as Haroon Khalid writes in this baleful feature, “How archaeology in Pakistan is forced to deny the nation’s Hindu past”. Even hard evidence in the form of archaeology is made evasive and forced to twist in deference to Islam.
The governments have been reluctant to accept the nation’s non-Islamic heritage which keeps propping up every now and then. Just last year during excavations, which had been stopped for a considerable number of years, Hindu statues and artifacts were discovered near the 1,500-year-old Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir in Karachi.
The search for a Muslim identity or an Islamic civilization in the land of the pure is akin to the quest for the holy grail. Unfortunately, the past – whether in the culture, the language or the history always takes a u-turn and brings back the seekers to its ancient roots – of a Hindu civilization which stood long and well-entrenched with a built heritage of temples going back 1,500 years.
The frustration has developed into resistance towards acceptance and cherishing of a minority culture and its symbols. This hate has spread across the land. It is not confined to a handful of regions or people. The poison against minorities, particularly Hindus, has seeped deep into the society. Since separation from India, hundreds of Pakistan temples have quietly disappeared and many have morphed into shops, mosques and other buildings. The efforts to erase the past have been vociferous.
Demolition and conversion of minority places of worship is not new in Pakistan. Almost every month there is a new controversy – a temple razed to the ground or converted into a mosque. Rewind to June when Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to prove his secular credentials and allotted money to build a Krishna temple in Islamabad, but the boundary wall of the temple was demolished within days.
However, on the other side, there have been some noteworthy examples, where Pakistanis have taken the efforts to document their heritage. A few years back, Karachi-based journalist and author Reema Abbasi, painstakingly brought out a well-researched book, “Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience”, with amazing photographs of Pakistani temples.
Once in a rare while, even the government has taken steps to give the temples, and also the minorities, the recognition they deserve. There was much celebration and cheer when the Imran Khan government opened up a historic Hindu temple in Sialkot for worship after 72 years. However, such examples are few and far between for a country where the number of temples has come down from well over 400 to a dozen in barely 70 years.
For the moment, Pakistan seems to be basking in the reflected glory of a new-found and diabolical friend Turkey. Both have made converting minority religions places into mosques a pastime. Turkey has converted two historical churches into mosques while the Pakistanis have demolished two temples during the same time.
Nevertheless, the 73-odd-year old Pakistan might it difficult to shake off a 5,000-year-old history that lies prolifically scattered across the length and breadth of the country.
- Sur Ki Nong Mawlai warns of intensified stirShillong, Sept 24: NGOs under the banner of the ‘Sur Ki Nong Mawlai’ have threatened to intensify protests against the state government for turning a deaf ear to the demand for suspending the top police officials to ensure a free and fair investigation into the alleged killing of the former HNLC leader Cheristerfield Thangkhiew on […]
- GHADC employee given two-day transfer noticeShillong, Sept 24: In a shocking development, the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) has given one of its employees notice of only two days regarding his transfer.Rosepika R Marak, a Chowkidar working in GHADC Tura was handed the transfer order yesterday wherein he was informed that he has been transferred to Baghmara Range under […]
- State seeks more funding to implement Jal Jeevan MissionShillong, Sept 24: The state government has requested the Centre to sanction additional funds for implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) today in villages where the amount fixed by the Ministry of Jal Shakti is not sufficient.This was informed by the Minister in charge of Public Health Engineering (PHE) Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar here today.“I […]
- Tongkhar underscores importance of catchment areasShillong, Sept 24: Minister-in-charge Public Health Engineering (PHE) Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar today asserted the importance of protecting the catchment areas to prevent depletion of water sources in the state.Speaking to reporters today, Tongkhar also requested the people of the state not to cut trees in the catchment areas.He said if the fund is available with […]
- Immense possibilities for Meghalaya in food processing says Union MinisterShillong, Sept 24: Union Minister of State for Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Ministry of Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel today inaugurated a two-day North East Summit on Food Processing Opportunities in Shillong, Meghalaya with an aim of building partnerships for inclusive growth in the food processing sector.“They say that a good beginning does […]
- Three fall to Covid on FridayShillong, Sept 24: Meghalaya recorded three more COVID-19 related deaths today taking the total number of fatalities in the state to 1,389.The Director of Health Services (MI) Dr Aman War informed that the two deaths were reported from East Khasi Hills district and 1 from West Jaintia Hills district.Dr War said the state has also […]
- Burglar nabbed with lootTura, Sep 24: One person was arrested by the West Garo Hills (WGH) yesterday after he was caught with at least 19 mobile phones, accessories and cash he had stolen from a shop in Hallidayganj.The person has been identified as Jamal Sheikh, a resident of Mandarpara – Sukhchar in South Salmara district had broken the […]
- AHAM urges CM to consider inputs on proposed amendment of 6th ScheduleTura, Sept 24: The A’chik Holistic Awakening Movement (AHAM) through a memo to the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, urging him to reconsider the recommendations to the central government over the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule. Uneasiness has been growing in Garo Hills over the recommendations made on the formation of village Councils as there […]