The country’s beleaguered minorities often face acts of extremism-driven violence on account of their faiths. What is rare, however, is when members of the country’s majority religion come to their rescue despite the risks involved.
One such incident occurred recently in Karachi’s Lyari locality when a charged mob attempted to vandalise a Hindu temple. However, violence and destruction at the Sheetal Das Compound were averted as Muslims from the neighbourhood halted the mob’s advance. Moreover, police also reached the spot in time and remained there to provide a sense of security to the community.
Around 300 Hindu families and over 30 Muslim families live in the compound but the Muslims did not think twice before stepping between the violent mob and their Hindu neighbours.
Napier Police Station SHO Abdul Majid told Sabaat that the mob wanted to get hold of a young Hindu man for allegedly committing blasphemy. “He is in police custody. We are looking into the case and I won’t be able to comment further right now.”
Majid shared that things are back to normal in the locality and there is no fear of further attacks. He added that the police have not received any complaints about vandalism at the temple. In fact, it is being given a facelift to celebrate Diwali, said further.
On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Lal Chand Malhi confirmed that the Sheetal Das Temple was vandalised and some centuries-old idols were damaged, adding that the Hindu community did not want the situation to worsen which is why they did not raise the issue of vandalism with the authorities.
Malhi was of the view that Sindh has always been a peaceful province which, being the ‘land of Sufis’, has always featured harmonious relationships among diverse communities. “The people of Sindh are not involved in any kind of hate-driven incidents against the Hindu community. In fact, there is an organised group working on some specific agenda that is behind these attacks,” he claimed.
He added that because of forced conversions and unemployment issues, many Hindu families moved to Karachi from upper Sindh and rural Sindh over the last decade and they need protection.
Failure to protect places of worship
In its landmark judgment in 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the federal government to form a task force that will be responsible for protecting worship places of minorities. However, despite the passage of six years, nothing has been done in this regard.
“The residents wouldn’t have left their houses had they felt safe there. Providing security and safety to lives is the prime responsibility of a state and if it doesn’t do so it means it’s a failed state,” said Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden.