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Equal rights: Human rights bodies protest attack on Hindu temples

Equal rights: Human rights bodies protest attack on Hindu temples
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KARACHI: The silence of the government is a sign of their covert support for the perpetrators, said protesters regarding the recent attacks on Hindu places of worship.

“Both the federal and the provincial governments are responsible for the attacks on our houses of worship as they have remained quiet and have done nothing to arrest the criminals,” said Human Rights Commisson of Pakistan (HRCP) Sindh vice-chairperson Amarnath Motumal.

A number of non-governmental organisations and leaders of minority communities came together on Friday at the Karachi Press Club to demonstrate against the series of attacks on Hindu places of worship across the province.

The protesters claimed that religious extremists were behind the attacks. Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research’s Zulfiqar Shah said that after the 2010 floods, extremists have crept into the province and have found safe havens in welfare and charity organisations.

Shah said that merely rebuilding the temples is not good enough and claimed that the government has failed to control the elements that are jeopardising the peace of the province.

Former MPA Michael Javed called for a judicial inquiry into the matter. “This is fast becoming an alarming situation since, in the past, attacks on Hindus in the province have been rare,” said Javed. “Extremism seems to be spreading now.”

Javed added that he finds it unfortunate that minority parliamentarians remain reluctant to highlight the issue in the assembly.

Another HRCP representative, Asad Iqbal Butt, said that Sindh is the land of Sufis and its people live in peace and harmony. “We demand that the places of worship of all religions are protected and those responsible for the temple attacks are brought to justice.”

Among the protesters were a number of Hindu women, who had gathered from different parts of the city. One of them, Ansar, along with other women clad in colourful saris, questioned why their religion was being disrespected. “Hindus and Muslims are brothers,” she said. “Then why are we being targeted in such a manner? What is being done to us is outrageous.”

The protesters insisted on equal rights for minorities, holding a banner that read, ‘Minorities are equal citizens’. “Mandiron per hamla bund kero, bund kero [Stop the attack on temples],” they shouted.

The demonstrators held another banner that showed a worrying statistic, claiming that only 20 Hindu temples, out of a total of 428, are operational and the rest are either being used for commercial purposes or have been encroached upon.

Pakistan Hindu Seva president Sanjesh S Dhanja said that no government official has visited any of the attacked temples nor has anyone offered their sympathies to the Hindu community.

“We are very disappointed and feel left out,” said Dhanja. “During such times, we should all be united.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2014.

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