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Hindus bemoan loss of temples

Many places of worship falling into disuse

Hindus bemoan loss of temples
A dilapidated Hindu temple in southern Sindh province reporter, Narowal

December 10, 2012

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Hindus in the Punjab, a region which borders India, say that their places of worship are slowly being left to rot as followers of the faith move away and temples continue to be destroyed across Pakistan.

In Narowal district, only one Hindu temple out of 45 is still used for worship, Ratan Lal, vice-president of Hindu Sudhar Sabha Pakistan, a minorities organization, said yesterday at an event to mark international Human Rights Day in the town.

“The rest are [mostly] being used as livestock buildings,” he said, adding one temple had become a brothel and another a drug den where cocaine was being sold.

Other speakers at the event complained of forced conversions from Hinduism, growing fundamentalism and the migration of Hindus.

Pakistan has seen a steady destruction of Hindu temples across the country after Hindu extremists in India razed the Babri mosque in the ancient city of Ayodhya in 1992.

The country's Hindu community has accused the Auqaf & Religious Department, which controls most of the temples, of renting them out.

Last week, hundreds of Hindus protested in Karachi after builders demolished a temple and nearby houses occupied by Hindus.

“We do not have equal rights,” said Lal, who is also a former member of Narowal’s district council. “We demand Hindu administration of our religious places of worship.”

Many families in the Narowal area rotate houses as places of worship, he added.

Saeeda Deep, founder of the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies and a Muslim, blamed state insensitivity for rising intolerance, claiming that minority populations had declined by about 13 percent since Pakistan became an Islamic republic in 1956.

“We are losing good people and, as a part of the majority community, I am ashamed of that,” she said.

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