Pakistan Supreme Court has ordered the reconstruction of a century-old Hindu shrine that was damaged by a mob last month in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On December 30, a mob led by members of Pakistan's radical Islamist party demolished a temple and set it ablaze in the deeply conservative northwestern town of Karak in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in Pakistan. A dispute about the illegal occupation of Krishna Dwara Mandir in Karak has surfaced several times. The Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi along with the Krishna Dwara Mandir in Teri village of Karak district was vandalised by the mob that claimed the temple had encroached on extra land. The temple was first attacked and demolished in 1997. After intervention by the Supreme Court in 2015, the local community had agreed to its reconstruction. Despite the reconstruction, there was a dispute over the land allocated to the temple.
The incident took place in the town of Karak and drew widespread condemnation from human rights activists and Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari. Mazari on Wednesday took to Twitter to condemn the burning of the temple and urged law enforcement officials to ensure the arrest of those involved. During the January 5 hearing, a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed stated that the cost of restoration should be recovered from the people who vandalized the temple.
The incidents of the demolition of Hindu temples in Pakistan are not new things. Such incidents take place almost every year for no reason. In January 2019, a Hindu temple in Chachro in Tharparkar district of Sindh province was vandalized by unidentified individuals. In February 2019, an attack on a Hindu temple was reported in Khairpur, Sindh. In October 2020, a group of extremists attacked a temple in Nagarparkar. Another historic Hindu temple was demolished in Karachi on August 16 last year.
According to a survey, there were 428 Hindu temples in Pakistan at the time of Partition and 408 of them were now turned into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and schools. Among these 11 temples are in Sindh, four in Punjab, three in Balochistan and two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition Pakistani Hindus faced riots. Mobs attacked five Hindu temples in Karachi and set fire to 25 temples in towns across the province of Sindh. Temples in Pakistan are not worshipping places for the Hindus, but they are also a source of earning for them. A 200-year-old Laxmi Narayan Temple in Karachi is not only an important place of worship for the minority Hindu but also a source of livelihood for the young and enterprising Muslim boys in the area.
But in recent times, not only temples but the Hindus and their properties are also at the target of Pakistani law-breakers. A number of incidents of forcefully Islamic conversion took place last year. As per the 2017 census data, the Hindu population in Pakistan has declined by 0.19 per cent since 1998.
- prabhakar purandare