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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hindu temple vandalized and robbed in Sindh just before Diwali, 10th since 2020

A Hindu temple was vandalized and robbed in Sindh, Pakistan just before Diwali. Islamists vandalized the Hanuman Devi Mata temple and stole jewelry and money.

The vandals entered the temple at night, stole hundi collections of around PKR 25,000 in donations, two silver necklaces adorning the deities worth around PKR 40,000 and a crown from the murti of Sita Maa. As per Republic TV, the attackers left a message saying this is a ‘gift for Hindus on Diwali’

Though there is enough evidence, the local police SSP denied that it was desecration but termed it as ‘theft’. Charges were filed for theft against unknown thieves who are yet to be identified.

A statement issued by the Sindh CM House on the issue said, “The thief [sic] entered through the roof of the mandir and stole necklaces from the moortis. The moortis [carved figures of the Hindu gods] were stored in a glass frame and were wearing two necklaces made of silver. The two necklaces are reported to be worth Rs40,000. The thief also stole Rs20,000 cash from the donation box.”

Although the CM House spoke about a single thief, locals said multiple people entered the temple and desecrated it at night. The FIR lodged at the Kotri police station based on the complaint by Bhagwandas, the caretaker priest of the temple, stated the thieves entered the Hanuman Devi Mata Mandir at the bank of the Indus River. They also removed and took away the crown from the moorti of the Devi Mata, the locals said.

Speaking to Republic TV,  Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) national spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa demanded strong action against the miscreants, stating, “Another attack has happened on minorities in Pakistan. Such attacks against poor minorities is a common sight in Sindh. A historic temple has been desecrated in Kotri. The miscreants have posted videos and photos of the same saying this is a ‘Diwali gift for the minorities of Pakistan’. I condemn the act and urge Minister of External Affairs of India, S Jaishankar, to take up this matter with his Pakistani counterpart immediately and ensure the safety and security of minorities. Such incidents are just not stopping, along with the abduction, forced conversion and marriage of minority girls.” 

In January this year, thieves stole gold jewelery and a crown worth lakhs of rupees from the Guru Valmiki temple in Kotri. Kotri police station had registered a case of theft against unknown thieves at that time. However, no arrest has been made so far.

August end saw a temple vandalized and Shri Krishna murti desecrated while Hindus were celebrating Krishna Janmashtami festival in Khipro, Sindh. A trend seems to be emerging of targeting Hindu temples just before festivals. Pakistan’s Punjab province saw the complete demolition of a Ganesha temple by a frenzied Muslim mob in early August. 

This latest desecration and robbery at a Hindu temple makes it at least the 10th such attack since 2020 – 7 of these major attacks are listed here.

There are conflicting statistics about the number of Hindu temples currently operational in Pakistan. A survey conducted by All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) revealed that out of 428 minorities’ places of worship (Hindu temples and Sikh gurudwaras) in the country, 408 have been converted into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and schools after 1990.

Anila Gulzar, spokeswoman for Justice for Minorities in Pakistan, has stated in a Facebook post that 20 temples out of 428 are left in Sindh province alone. But since Hindus are primarily concentrated in Sindh province (over 90% of Pakistani Hindus live there), it is likely that very few temples would be operational outside this province.

A one-man commission set up Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier this year found that out of 365 Hindu temples in Pakistan, only 13 (3.6%) are being managed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), leaving responsibility of 65 (17.8%) with the Hindu community, and practically abandoning the rest 287 (78.6%) to the land mafias.

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