Hindu Temple Desecration: Highly condemnable

The News, October 11, 2006
Editorial
Stop the desecration

In an ultimate insult to any place of worship, a Hindu temple in Karachi has reportedly been encroached upon by local butchers and parts of its compound have been converted into a slaughterhouse. This is most insensitive to the religious feelings of Hindus since cows are considered sacred by them. The actual culprits behind the steady encroachment in the compound where the temple is situated are not the butchers -- who are plying their trade there with impunity -- but the land grabbers allegedly operating with the collaboration of the local police. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has rightly demanded that the Sindh government and the city nazim take immediate action to stop this encroachment, not least because it offends the religious sensibilities of a minority community.

According to an application sent by the HRCP to the provincial government, the land grabbers have forced the Hindu residents of the century-old Pawaldass compound in the backward Baghdadi area of Lyari Town of old Karachi to sell their properties at cheap rates. The land grabbers' tactics range from monetary inducements to the poor Hindu families to violence carried out with the active involvement of the local police. There are even reports of a Muslim praying area having been forcibly established inside the compound. The action of the land-grabbers is doubly criminal. They are dispossessing the residents, taking over their temple in the process. In addition, they are in direct violation of the West Pakistan Evacuee Properties Act of 1957. Both call for the immediate action the HRCP has demanded. The action should not stop at prevention of further encroachment by the land grabbers, but should extend to the return of the residents' occupied properties. At the same time, of course, the religious rights of the Hindu residents must be completely restored. It is about time that we began to respect the religious feelings and sensibilities of those of other faiths, especially since we tend to be very sensitive ourselves if our own sensibilities are slighted. The government is eager to project itself as progressive and for that alone it should ensure that the shenanigans of the land-grabbers and their patrons in the local police are stopped immediately. It goes without saying that if a mosque were encroached the government would act immediately -- it needs to show the same promptness with respect to safeguarding the rights of the minorities as well.

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