Lyari’s Hindu Community Helpless As Temples Being Illegally Demolished
“I was completely shattered to see the temple destroyed. It’s the one that I have been going to since I was born. I remember the pictures I had at the temple with my parents and grandparents,” says Muhammad Kutchi, a local resident.
The pre-partition Hanuman temple was illegally demolished in Lyari, Karachi in yet another instance of the onslaught on cultural heritage and sites of worship. 22 houses were razed to the ground in the process. These 22 families belonged to the Hindus minority community residing in the vicinity of the temple.
The practice of demolition and conversion of minority communities’ places of worship is not new in Pakistan. Every now and then a new controversy stirs up. We hear news of either a temple being bulldozed away or turned into a mosque.
Mohan Lal, a 60-year-old resident of Lyari informed that the builder mafia wanted to construct a building at the temple site. They were promised compensation but have received none yet.
“Some of the families living in the area were given cash as compensation for vacating their houses. An agreement was also signed that each family would be allotted an apartment once the new building is set up”. The agreement between both the parties was verbal and no commitment was sealed in writing.
“The Hindu families did not agree to the temple demolition because of the religious, sentimental, and historical value attached to it. However, they agreed to give up their compounds in order to resettle in the newly constructed building. But after a few weeks, the builders not only demolished their houses but also the Hanuman temple,” told Mohan Lal says.
Seema Maheshwari, a Hindu social activist, shared details of the incident. He accused a builder who had been threatening the community to vacate the location. “The community members gathered at the site and tried to enter the temple to protest against the demolishing but were denied entry,” Maheshwari says.
“No one was allowed to visit the temple during the lockdown. Taking advantage of the lockdown, the builder destroyed it,” told Ravi Chauhan, social activist and journalist. He demanded the restoration of the temple and shared the hurt sentiments of the Hindu community.
This report has been published in collaboration with Ravadar.