Bricks thrown at the damaged Shiva lingam at Goraknath temple
The Hindu community in Peshawar said yesterday they fear for their safety after a 160-year-old temple at the center of a legal dispute was attacked and ransacked earlier this week.
An iron lock hanging from the wooden brown door of Goraknath temple in Gorkhatri, one of Peshawar’s oldest districts, now bars entry.
Inside, gray bricks lie scattered on the floor after up to 10 men reportedly used them to damage the Shiva lingam (sacred stone) on Sunday.
Six pictures and two holy flags were also damaged by fire, while “a statue of Shiva [a major Hindu deity] is still missing” said Ramesh Lal, who is in charge of the temple.
Local Hindus said yesterday the attack could be a precursor to acts of violence against them.
“We do not want to make a big thing of the incident. Families are already worried about the safety of their children,” said Lal.
Locals cannot organize a protest rally out of fear of suicide bombings which have become the norm in this city,” said a member of the local Hindu council who asked not to be named.
It was the third such attack on the temple since it reopened last October following the end of a legal dispute over the temple between local Hindus and the Evacuee Property Board and Archaeology Department, a dispute that has spanned six decades.
The Goraknath temple is situated in the center of a Mughal-era compound which the Archaeological Department says is of significant historical interest.
Hindus believe the attacks are linked to their legal victory and have accused local authorities of not doing enough to protect them.
Officials only put the city’s six temples under guard yesterday after a report on the attack was filed with police.
“The promises and guarantees of authorities are half-hearted. Clerics from a neighboring mosque and madrassa have already barred Hindus from playing any music during our feasts,” the council member said, adding that “official bias against us now rules after the court verdict.”
There are presently around 600 Hindus in Peshawar.
Hindus seek protection for temples