Historic Hindu Temple Under Threat in Pakistan

The minority Hindus see it as another assault on their faith- in the majority Muslim country.


Senin, 15 Sep 2014 16:00 WIB

Historic Hindu Temple Under Threat in Pakistan

Pakistan, Hindu, Temple, Construction, Shadi Khan Saif

A Hindu temple in Pakistan is under threat by the construction of a skyscraper.

While the builders say the project is beneficial for Karachi's citizens, the minority Hindus see it as another assault on their faith- in the majority Muslim country.

For 150 years, the Shri Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple has been the center of spirituality and festivity for the Hindus living in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

Each year, a grand festival at the temple attracts more than 25,000 pilgrims from all over the country.

Just a stone's throw away, property tycoon Malik Riaz is constructing the country's tallest building.

To ease the flow of traffic near the project, a flyover and an underpass are also being built.

The Hindu community fears the underground temple is too fragile to survive the heavy drilling in the vicinity. 

Devotee Hemat Kumar believes it’s equal to an attack on their minority faith. 

“Our places of worship have regularly been targeted but we have remained peaceful so far and kept hoping that some sense will prevail.’’

There have been several protests against the construction of the skyscraper by the Hindu Council and Human rights activists.

Zohra Yusuf is the chairperson of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“The thing is you don’t see new temples and churches coming up in this country, you only see new mosques coming up, so there is a greater responsibility on the majority Muslims to protect such places of worship.”

Hindus make up less than 3 % in Pakistan’s nearly 180 million population.

The Pakistani Hindu community has taken the matter to the court, which had earlier ordered the builders to temporarily halt the construction of the plaza.

But after an appeal, the court allowed the builders to resume the project.

The Commercial Plaza developer ‘Bahria Foundation’ believes the project is crucial to the "prosperity" of the city and that the temple will not be harmed.

Muhammad Irshad is one of the engineers working on the project.

“We are trying to change the construction design to make sure temple is not damaged.”

In recent months, several Hindu temples have been attacked in the cities of Larkana, Hyderabad and Mithi by Muslim groups, who were "avenging" the alleged insult to Islam during the Hindu festival of Holi.

And the Hindu worshipers at Ratneshwar Temple like Shakeel have no confidence in the state. He says all they can do is pray for God’s help.

Worshipper Hemat Kumar says even if the temple survives the drilling and digging, the huge commercial complex will make it difficult for people to get to the temple.

“It’s happened before with another temple. We kept shouting but nothing happened and now no one can easily access that temple, same is going to happen to us here.”

Outside the temple, construction work is in full swing, the developer wants to build Pakistan’s tallest building on this coastal belt within a few months.

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