Dussehra celebrations marred by security fears

Hindus celebrate the festival of Dussehra in Krishna Temple, police refused to provide extra guards despite concerns.


Abdul Manan October 18, 2010

LAHORE: Just a handful of Hindus celebrated the festival of Dussehra in Krishna Temple on Sunday night, as police refused to provide extra guards despite security concerns.

Pundit Kashi Ram, Krishna Temple general secretary Dr Manohar Chand, a few temple staffers including a drummer and religious singer, and some Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) officials were in attendance for the festival, which follows Navaratri, or nine nights of worship. Last year, the temple was packed with 80 to 90 people for the festival.

The Hindu community in the city has been in a state of heightened tension since an Indian court’s ruling last month that the site of the old Babri Masjid should be divided, with one part going to Muslims and two parts going to Hindu groups.

Students of Jamia Ashrafia staged protests against the court verdict after Friday prayers on October 1 and October 8 at which they threatened to demolish Hindu temples in Lahore. Many Hindus fled the city after these protests.

Pundit Kashi Ram told The Express Tribune that since the start of Navaratri on October 9, he had thrice asked the local police station for extra security, but they had responded with demands for money to fund the extra guards. He said that not a single police official had been deployed at the temple for the last nine days.

Shafiqabad Station House Officer Farooq Asghar Awan denied that police had not provided security to the temple. He said that the police had deployed nine constables and an assistant sub inspector to the temple on the occasion of Dusehra. Dr Chand said that the District Peace Committee had calmed local clerics who were threatening violence after the Indian court ruling.

But it was hard to erase memories of 1992, when Muslim mobs demolished some 360 temples in Lahore after Hindu mobs had torn down Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, he said. The ETPB acknowledges that 21 temples existed in Lahore in 1947.

Dr Chand said that when he stood, and lost, for three National Assembly elections in the 1980s, the city had a population of some 1,100 Hindus, including lawyers, doctors and businessmen. “After the 1992 riots, all the Hindus that could migrate left. At present there are around 150 Hindus in the city. After the verdict, they are scared,” he said.

History

Dussehra is a popular Hindu festival which marks the day Lord Rama killed the demon Ravana for abducting his wife Sita. The word Dussehra comes from the word ‘dus’ meaning ‘ten’ and ‘hara’ meaning ‘annihilated’. Hindus believe that Ravana had 10 faces and Dussehra is the day on which the 10 faces of evil were destroyed.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2010.

COMMENTS (1)

Vivek | 11 years ago | Reply I cant not understand Why these two contries always take other's internal issues personally and take it to their own country
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