Soldier Bazaar demolition: The homeless will brave cold nights and put up a fight

Published: December 3, 2012

Members of the Hindu community protest outside the press club PHOTO: ONLINE

The area’s residents claimed that the deities were taken away by the police along with the gold ornaments  that adorned them. On Sunday, they claimed that one of the deities had not been returned and neither had the gold jewelry.  PHOTO: EXPRESS
Members of the Hindu community protest outside the press club PHOTO: ONLINE
KARACHI: 

The houses in Soldier Bazaar which were demolished on Saturday used to be spaces where 40 people built their lives and nurtured their children. Now, they are nothing more than debris which the homeless will use as pillows as they sleep under the open sky.

Around three or four houses and a century-old temple, the Shri Rama Pir Mandir, were demolished by a private builder. The swift operation seemed to have emerged out of the blue and caught the residents unawares.

“We are protesting against the injustice by staying out on the streets. We won’t leave or move in with our relatives,” said Kaali Das, an elder of the community. “We will sit on the road till our temples and houses are rebuilt.”

Other members of the Hindu community are also livid at the demolition of the temple. A petition had been filed in the Sindh High Court, seeking a stay order against its demolition. On Saturday, the court did restrain the local administration and the private builder from tearing down the pre-partition temple till December 7, but it was razed before the stay order could come in.

The homeless as well as other members of the community made their way on Sunday to the press club, vociferously demanding justice. “We don’t have any shelter. Our children spent Saturday night shivering in the cold. We were made homeless in just seconds. What was our fault?” shouted Pooja. Around her, women clad in bright saaris beat their chests, crying that the temple was desecrated.

People holding placards demanded the President to help rebuild the temple. “If a mosque was desecrated, the culprit would have been killed immediately. But nobody seems to be bothered about the temple,” said Lal Jee of the Soldier Bazaar Panchayat.

Pooja

The residents of the neighbourhood whose houses were spared during the operation are providing food to the homeless people but demanded the government to help out as soon as possible.

Missing deity?

Pakistan Hindu Council’s patron, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, said the police had seized the deity of Shankar Bhagwan and have yet to return it. “During the operation, the police put all the deities in their vehicle and took away all the gold ornaments  as well as the crown. While the other deities have been returned, the idol of Shankar Bhagwan and gold has yet to be given back.”

However, DSP Pervaiz Iqbal of the Nabi Buksh police station refuted the claims. “What would we do with their deities? We don’t have them and neither do we have the gold.”

Conspicuous by absence

Earlier on Sunday, reports floated that the provincial minorities minister, Mohan Lal, would visit the site. But he didn’t show up and hasn’t taken notice of the incident so far. The minister for excise and taxation, Mukesh Chawla, who has on various occasions stated that the minorities enjoy full protection in the province, has yet to take action as well. He was unavailable for comment.

MPA Pitanbar Sewani vowed to bring up the issue in the upcoming session of the Sindh Assembly. He said the Protection of Religious Minorities Properties Act 2012 was badly needed. He said the bill would be presented in the next Sindh Assembly session. “We will introduce the bill soon and hope that it is passed by the house. The law will protect the houses of worship of the religious minorities and punish the perpetrators.”

A video report on the incident can be viewed here.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Dec 3, 2012 - 1:09PM

    Is there any rule of law in Pakistan? .If so take immediate action against the culprits.

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  • abid
    Dec 3, 2012 - 1:56PM

    the decline of Pakistan is now imminent ..a country where minority is persecuted and tourtured cannot stand long.

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  • asif
    Dec 3, 2012 - 2:16PM

    Every citizen of country has equal rights…..shame on our behaviour

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  • Faisal
    Dec 3, 2012 - 3:55PM

    Background context is missing, who is the private builder and why did he demolish the houses?

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  • Cum DisgraceRecommend

  • silkroad
    Dec 3, 2012 - 10:11PM

    This government is pathetic. Shame shame. As a Muslim I protest this demolition. How someone can destroy house of God? They must demon. My sincere apology to Hindu Junta but damage is already done.Recommend

  • Mohinder sandhu
    Dec 3, 2012 - 10:30PM

    One babri masjid was demolished (I do not condone the act but condemn it in harshest possible words).there were at least 30-35 small temples in and around lahore was attacked and damaged.All minorities are moving away from pakistan,pakistan had 10% minorities in 1947,now it is less than 1%.No action is taken by the government.It is in my view hidden encouragement to majority people to go after minorities

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  • DarKnight
    Dec 3, 2012 - 11:51PM

    “The world is a Dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do not do anything about it.”

    Albert Einstein

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  • Dec 3, 2012 - 11:54PM

    Worth-seeing action,
    constitution grante permission for that?,
    the munder build before partition has also been demolished,
    law prohibts to do so,but they did,
    government of Sindh and center,zinda bad.

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  • Wikileaks Cable
    Dec 3, 2012 - 11:58PM

    “CDA demolished 7 mosques around January 2007 in the capital city of Islamabad which were reportedly built illegally on government’s land. One of those mosques was built some 100 years ago…”

    When CDA demolished illegal mosques during the construction boom in Islamabad, MMA disingenuously turned it into a religious issue to appeal to its base. Not much different than what Tribune’s Rabia Ali is doing here.

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  • Dec 4, 2012 - 10:02PM

    asif its not only in pak thats happening , in canada we are treated as sh–s too , would canada be finished too . canada govt openly wanted to kill me through their csis secret service of hittler mussad m15.

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  • Fakirchand
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:33AM

    My intension is not to heart any ones feelings and not even to create any religious issue here but the thing which i wish to mention here is that Hindus residing country in all over the world is only India and Nepal now the main thing here is to say is that we agree that after 1947 India Pakistan relation is not at all good in that case i appeal Govt of India that kindly make such a arrangement that all the Hindus from Pakistan should come to reside in India and get mix up with the Indian people so that there life should be safe…

    if all thing is maintain with full of etiquette then each and every thing is possible……..

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