Arson attack on Hindu temple in Hyderabad triggers protest
GOHAR ALI KHAN
HYDERABAD: A Hindu deity statue was broken and a small temple was partially damaged in early Friday morning arson attack near Fateh Chowk on Tando Mohammad Khan Road, sowing the feeling of insecurity among the religious minority community and triggering street protests.
Only a couple of weeks ago, a Dharamshala was set ablaze and some statues of Hindu deities in an adjacent temple in Larkana were damaged in protest against alleged desecration of the Quran.
The recent arson attacks on worship places are seen as an attempt to fan flames of communal violence in Sindh.
There are one big and two small temples — Kalimata Mandir, Shiv Bhulai Nath and Hanuman — on Tando Mohammad Khan Road near Fateh Chowk where around 3,000 people from the religious minority community lived, mostly in small houses in the vicinity of the large Kalimata Mandir.
According to residents, it was around five o’clock in the morning when four persons travelling in a car arrived at Hanuman Mandir. Three of them got out of the car and entered the temple. They broke the deity of Hanuman and sprinkled petrol all over the place before setting it on fire. A child, Darshan Kumar, who resisted the move, was pushed away at gunpoint, said Laxman Kumar, Mohan Lal Rathore and other residents.
While the arsonists fled, a hue and cry by the child drew the attention of the residents who rushed out of their homes and extinguished the fire. However, by then they said the temple was partially damaged.
Soon after the incident, the residents converged on the main road where they staged a sit-in in protest against the attack on the temple.
They also burnt tyres and junk on the main road leading to Tando Mohammad Khan blocking traffic for some hours. The law-enforcement agencies reached the area and convinced the protesters to call off their sit-in. The protesters, who were also joined by representatives of the Sindh National Party, condemned the attack on the place of worship. They also raised slogans against the authorities concerned which failed to ensure protection of the religious places of the minority community.
Speaking to Dawn outside the temple, Kalimata Mandar Committee chairman Mohan Lal Rathore and SNP chief Ashraf Noonari demanded that the government ensure protection of the lives and properties of Hindus who felt insecure. They condemned the incident and said that some people wanted to fan flames of communal violence in Sindh by carrying out such arson attacks on religious places.
An FIR (36/2104) was lodged on a complaint of Kirshan Kumar Meghwar, chairman of the Kali Mata Sheva Mandli Committee, under Sections 6/7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and 295-A (Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs), 436 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code against three unidentified persons at the SITE police station.
Hyderabad DIG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi suspended Site SHO Abdullah Bhutto and transferred him to Sujawal district. He also recommended the suspension of Site DSP Sikandar Ali Korai to the police chief.
Dr Abbasi said that he beefed up security around 154 temples in the Hyderabad police range, including 34 Hindu temples in Hyderabad district only.
The DIG said he met a delegation of Hindu people and assured them of security and protection of their properties and lives. He suggested to the delegation to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on temples.
He said that police were investigating various aspects including minority, internally displaces persons (IDPs), local, national and economic interest of people.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Nawaz Soho assured a delegation of Hindu people, who called on him in the evening, that every possible effort would be made to avert such incidents in the future and ensure protection of the holy places of all religious minorities.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representative in Hyderabad Dr Ashothama said that Hindu religious places and properties were being attacked one after another. He said that there was unrest and a feeling of insecurity prevailing in the community.
He suspected that both religious fanatics and land grabbers could be involved in such crimes. Religious extremists were destroying peace and harmony and the secular status which Sindh was famous for across the world, said rights activist and writer Zulfiqar Halepoto.He appealed to the government to check an influx of internally displaced persons from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa into Sindh.