KARACHI: Karachi has a population of 21 million, which at the time of Partition, was slightly under half a million. At the time, 51 per cent was Hindu and now this figure is about 1.45 per cent. The community is doing all it can to preserve 50 temples in different parts of Karachi — the number was over 450 before Partition.
The Ratneshwar Mahadev temple in Clifton, adjacent to the Jahangir Kothari Parade, is a nationally-known temple, and is visited by Hindus from all over Pakistan. The car parking of the 150-year old temple has been converted into space where a seasonal flower exhibition is held by the city government. The flower show, however, takes place only in March-April. Besides this, the parking space is not used for any other purpose. In addition, the temple’s entrance has been demolished. Every year, a grand mela of Lord Shiva is held for three days, which is attended by 25,000 people daily. In addition, every Monday 5,000 people and on all other days around 1,000 people visit the temple.
With no parking available within a one-kilometre radius , the attendance at the temple is decreasing. Parking vehicles on the road side can result in heavy fines and in some cases vehicles have even been stolen. We, the Hindus, the largest religious minority of Pakistan, demand that the temple’s parking be restored and its entrance area designated as temple property. Safeguarding religious property is the duty of the government and is required under Pakistani law, UN resolutions and the vision that Mohammad Ali Jinnah had for Pakistan.
Kalavanti Raja Menghwar
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.