Image courtesy: AP/PTI
In yet another attack on the sentiments of the Hindu minority community in Pakistan, a century old Hindu temple was vandalised in Rawalpindi. According to news reports, the temple was under renovation when a group of unidentified people attacked it. According to a complaint registered by the local police, the media reported that the incident occurred at Purana Qila area of Rawalpindi city on Saturday March 27. It was reported that a group of over a dozen people stormed the temple at about 7:30 P.M. The vandals damaged the main door, the staircase, and another door in the upper storey of the temple, stated the police complaint.
The Dawn newspaper reported that the security officer of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, Northern Zone, Syed Raza Abbas Zaidi, was the one who lodged an FIR at Banni police station of Rawalpindi. He stated that the construction and renovation work on the temple had been going on for the last one month. The EPTB is a statutory board that manages religious properties and shrines of Hindus and Sikhs who had migrated to India after the Partition.
According to the report, the security officer said, “There were some encroachments in front of the temple which were removed on March 24.” However, it added that religious ceremonies and rituals had “not been started in the temple nor were there any idols or any other worship item” in the temple when it was attacked. His complaint sought legal action against the people who had caused damage to the temple, stated the media report.
These encroachments were reportedly flourishing under a land “mafia” that, according to Dawn, “had occupied the surroundings of the temple over a long time by making shops and kiosks.” The local district administration assisted by the police had recently removed all encroachments. Soon after the temple was cleared of encroachments, renovation work was started. Meanwhile, a report in the Tribune also quoted the administrator of the temple, Om Prakash, who said that Rawalpindi police personnel reached the spot as soon as they were alerted and the situation was brought under control.
Prakash told the media that police had been deployed at his house as well as at the temple for security. However, Holi celebrations were not held at the temple this year reported, The Express Tribune, adding that according to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. And attacks on minorities are common in Pakistan.
In January, the Supreme court of Pakistan had said that the attack on the Hindu temple, that was vandalised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in December 2020, had caused ‘international embarrassment’ to the country. It had directed that the authorities must recover the money required for the restoration from those who attacked the temple. The Pakistan SC had also directed the Evacuee Property Trust Board to submit details of all functional and ‘nonfunctional’ temples and gurudwaras across Pakistan.
The attack on the temple at Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district last Wednesday by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party (Fazal-ur-Rehman group) had drawn condemnation from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government of India, as well as rights activists and Hindu community leaders, from India and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in another unrelated incident involving a Hindu temple, a complaint was filed by two members of the Hindu community in northwestern Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which sought action against the security staff of an ancient Shiva temple who had allegedly stopped worshippers from performing religious rituals. According to a report in The Outlook, a complaint was filed by Sham Lal and Sajin Lal against the security staff of the temple in Gandhian area in Mansehra district of the province. They complained that “stopping worshippers from performing religious rituals in a mandir (temple) is against the law of the land”. Media reports stated that Senator Gurdeep Singh of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, member of provisional assembly Ravi Kumar and SHO of Baffa Police Station have also been made party in the complaint. The complainant sought the intervention of Deputy Inspector General of Police, Hazara division to resolve the issue and let worshippers carry out religious rituals in the temple.