Oasis in Sindh: Muslim family protecting sole Hindu temple in Johi

Published: February 8, 2014
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The temple is locally called ‘kubi’ and is a very prominent building. PHOTO: KAMRAN SIDDIQUI

The temple is locally called ‘kubi’ and is a very prominent building. PHOTO: KAMRAN SIDDIQUI

JOHI: 

Sikandar Chandio, 53, was born in the temple he now protects. “This is our fifth generation living on the premises of the temple. I believe it is a sacred place for some people and I don’t want this building to be damaged.”

Despite some recent untoward incidents against the Hindu community, the people of Sindh largely uphold religious harmony.

Chandio’s Muslim family ‘protects’ the only temple in Johi, a town in which no Hindu family resides. A Hindu man handed over the charge of the temple to his grandfather, Jamaluddin.

“My grandfather didn’t purchase it,” he admitted. “The Hindu man gave the possession to him through a verbal agreement.” “I was born in this temple, so were my children. We all are watchmen of this building,” Chandio said.

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The temple is locally called ‘kubi’ and is a very prominent building. The area where the temple is located has been named as ‘kubi mohalla’ (area of the temple) as it is known for the place of worship.

The present area of the temple is very limited. Two rooms are constructed on the right, while a small washroom is built on the left. There is an open space in front of the temple and four shops located behind it.

The family does not occupy the internal area of the temple, but it is used as a storeroom. The temple is not really well maintained, no walls stand erect around the main praying area and only a few paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses make it look like a temple.

Many of the statues built around the upper portion of the temple are damaged. “Some were already broken and some were dented during attacks,” Chandio explained.

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The temple has been attacked a few times. When a mob tried to damage the temple after the Babri Masjid riots in India, he intervened. “We resisted as much as we could. I even sat the elders of local communities down and pleaded with them not to attack it again.”

It was rumoured that the Chandio family had occupied the temple, not allowing Hindus to enter the building for religious rituals. “We haven’t stopped anyone and there are no Hindus in Johi,” he said.

Many residents allege that he has illegally occupied the temple’s premises but he hasn’t changed much inside the temple, or made it ‘homelike’, commented Akbar Lashari, a social activist. “[If Chandio occupied it] he could have easily razed it to the ground and sold the land – and no one would have objected either,” he added.

But Chandio is tired. “We are staying on a hope that someone will come […] and we’ll hand over the temple’s possession,” he said. “We believe this is sacred for somebody, which is why we guard it. But it is not an easy task to protect it or to resist a certain mentality.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • LuvPak
    Feb 8, 2014 - 6:26AM

    It’s the Will of the people of whole Pakistan that will eventually rule, not of Taliban…by force, that decide what system of government will rule Pakistan. Just by disregarding Pak constitution by the force of speech or grenade is not going to work or bear any result, we must make the Islamic fundamentalist extremists understand who ask Pak government to make Sharia or Some other kind of government. Taliban brothers must understand… everything in Pakistan will be run by the people’s choice not by the choice of force.

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  • A Hindu
    Feb 8, 2014 - 10:59AM

    One sided story, which seems to protect the encrochers. Hindus specially sceduled caste are living in Johi and Wahi Padi. They are tired of visiting the eleected representatives and local adminisration to evacuate the mandir, but encorcher chandhi family (Influential) are not willing to leave and he now had built shops around temple. Please ET re-investigate the fact rather than protecting the land mafia. We people belonging to Hindu community want protection

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  • Kumar
    Feb 8, 2014 - 12:19PM

    ET Team. You are liberal people, please avoid defending land mafia. In response to petiton filed by Hindu Panchyat, the court had given verdict in late 90s against the encrochers who have now being tearted as hero by your newpspaper. If you want I can send you a petition filed by Mohan Lal Odhu, resident of Johi whose family is still living near the town.

    Please support us in the casue against these land grabber rather than depicting them as HERO

    Ashok Arora
    memeber executive counci Hindu Panchyat, Hyderabad division

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  • Feb 8, 2014 - 3:27PM

    I know how Hindus are suppressed in every single town of Interior Sindh. They are being looted in the name of religion, low caste, etc. Please help them! Recommend

  • Shaikh Israr
    Feb 8, 2014 - 6:02PM

    good job

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  • Shehzad
    Feb 8, 2014 - 8:50PM

    It should be government property,and should be a temple as is, maintained.

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  • Sarkar
    Feb 11, 2014 - 2:56AM

    Good story. ET deserves appreciation

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  • Sultan
    Feb 11, 2014 - 3:11AM

    @Kumar
    I think Hindu cast is Oudh not Odhu…Odhu is a Muslim clan! and lower cast hindus dont visit temples at least in Pakistan. You are member of Hindu Panchayat, can you tell me how many temples are built in areas where lower cast Hindus are living and upper cast traders are missing???

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