Rajat Sharma

Double Faced Pakistan: Attacks on Hindus and Temples

akbA huge mob of Muslim bigots attacked the Sheetal temple in Bhimpura area of Karachi on Sunday night, vandalized the premises, broke idols of Hindu gods Lord Shiva and Ganesh, and within minutes turned the place of worship into a wreck. The immediate provocation: there was a rumour that a Hindu boy had committed blasphemy. An anti-France protest by Muslims was going on in the locality when this rumour spread. Soon the crowd turned its attention towards the Hindus, attacked the ancient temple, broke the idols and threw them outside. It was later found that the rumour was baseless.

When local Hindus in Karachi lodged protests and gave statements to the police, some of the vandals roughed them up in the presence of police and threatened them with dire consequences.

This was the third act of desecration of Hindu temples in Pakistan in the last 20 days. Both the earlier attacks on Hindu temples took place in Sindh province. The pattern was the same. First, some local Muslims alleged Hindus of committing blasphemy and then vandalized the temples. Though local police registered FIR, no action was taken against the vandals.

Pakistan government has terribly failed in protecting its minorities. It does not even have a minority member in its National Minority Commission. Hindu, Sikh, Shia, Ahmediya and Christian minorities in Pakistan are living in a state of fear with no protection being provided by police. In the last one year, there have been several cases of forcible conversion of Sikhs, Hindus and Christians, forcible abduction and marriage of Hindu girls, and attacks on places of worship. During Partition, there were 428 Hindu temples in Sindh province. This number has now dwindled to only 20, say Pakistani human rights activists.

In August this year, a Pakistani builder openly demolished a pre-1947 era Hanuman temple in Lyari locality of Karachi at a construction site. The builder took advantage of the nationwide lockdown due to Covid, and claimed that since no one was visiting the temple, he decided to demolish it. In Islamabad, in July, religious bigots razed the boundary wall of a Sri Krishna temple under construction. They were objecting to the construction of a temple in the capital of the Islamic state.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been shouting hoarse about treatment of Indian Muslims, had been claiming that minorities in his country are being given protection. His claim is a white lie. Recently, houses of Bheel and Meghwal communities in Sindh were set on fire by Muslim mobs. In September, 171 Hindus from Bheel community were forcibly converted into Islam in Sindh province.

Let me cite one clear case of religious persecution. A 13-year-old Christian girl was abducted by some Muslims. Her parents approached the police which turned a deaf ear. They approached the court. The defendants produced a video in court to “prove” that the girl converted to Islam of her own free will, and she has married a 44-year-old Muslim. On Tuesday, the court, instead of handing over the girl to her parents, directed that the girl should be allowed to stay with her husband who was more than thrice her age.

This is nothing but a travesty of justice. Imran Khan will never speak about such atrocities in his country, but he would surely raise his voice against what he calls “Islamophobia” in France and other European countries. The question is: why are Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in Pakistan targeted to exact revenge against whatever his happening in faraway France?

In neighbouring Bangladesh, in a shocking case of bigotry, a Muslim mob attacked the homes of 10 Hindu families in Kurbanpur village near Muradnagar in Comilla district on Sunday. The reason: a Bangladeshi man, living in France, had praised President Emmanuel Macron’s action against jihadis in his country after the brutal beheadings of two persons. Bangladesh police arrested two Hindus, including a school headmaster, on charge of liking the Facebook post of the man. They were charged of “hurting religious sentiments”. The houses of both the Hindus arrested by police were also set on fire.

After there was outrage over this incident, Bangladesh Home Minister claimed that five persons have been detained on charge of arson and rioting. Police have been deployed in Kurbanpur and Andikot villages to prevent the situation going out of control.

In recent years, Bangladesh has been witnessing spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Law enforcing agencies in the country must deal sternly with mobs that indulge in arson in the name of religion. The denigration of Prophet Mohammed by displaying his cartoon is condemnable, but this does not mean that wanton acts of beheadings and stabbings by Islamic jehadists must be supported. These are attacks on humanity which must not be condoned. All of us should be concerned over how Islamic jihadists are trying to take advantage of the issue to settle scores with minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such moves must be nipped in the bud. The world must speak out against bigots attacking minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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