Hindu Temples under Attack in Pakistan
Unknown to the world, a silent but ruthless drive to intimidate and deprive the Hindu community of their basic rights is gathering pace in Pakistan.
The state’s complicity in this assault and failure to punish the guilty, more apparent under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, is driving the minorities to the brink of survival. Ahmadis are already fleeing in thousands to distant foreign lands searching for security and peace. Baloch are likewise driven to seek asylum at great cost to their families.
Now the Hindus are on the target. They are a small minority, a mere 1.6 percent of the total population. This is the community which could have easily shifted their homes to the Hindu-majority India but they chose to remain loyal to their land. Their loyalty to the new state, Pakistan, has been unquestionable. Not one has found to be a traitor. They were poor but hard-working, they were denied equal opportunities but they took shelter in their religious and cultural bonding.
The religious bigots, most of patronised by the state, are systematically breaking apart these very moorings which the small Hindu community has relied on to live within a Muslim-dominated state. It has never been an easy way but it is now a horrible and hopeless daily torture.
The situation has become so grave that at least some of the Pakistanis are beginning to accept how minorities were being ill-treated under the Imran Khan regime. In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, Dr Shoaib Suddle drew a picture of abysmal state of the holiest of Hindu shrines in Pakistan. The report, submitted early February, showed how systematic decay and destruction have been allowed to visit upon the revered sites of the Hindus.
Last year, Pakistan Human Rights Commission conducted a field investigation study of the status of minority religious structures and found that for different reasons these places of worship have suffered direct attacks from majority community and utter neglect by government authorities.
An important finding of the commission was the significant decline in the population of minorities since 1947. This decline was caused by, according to the commission report, “ targeted attacks against them, systemic discrimination “ besides the community venturing for better economic opportunities.
The commission found that thousands of places of worship of religious minorities have been shut down for various reasons including violence and political pressure put on by majority community.
The Hindu places of worship have bore the maximum brunt. There were about 1300 mandirs or temples in Pakistan and most of them today either remain shut or in dilapidated condition. The human rights commission reported three major reasons for this pathetic state: pressure from Muslim majority inhabitants of the local area, government taking them over to build schools and other structures and property dispute.
What the bigots have left, the land mafia, in collusion, is busy gobbling up shuttered temples and other places of worship. In the Supreme Court, the government in an affidavit admitted as such that over 287 temples have been taken over by the land mafia.
Although the Imran Khan government claims to work for the welfare of minorities, the atrocities on various minority communities, their way of life and places of worship have been never been so high and intimidating. The forcible destruction of Hindu places of worship is perhaps only the tip of this malevolent iceberg.