By Zia Ur Rehman

April 16, 2014

KARACHI – The Sindh government is beefing up security as civil society calls for an end to the recent violence against Hindus and their places of worship.

Miscreants have launched several attacks in Larkana, Hyderabad and Tharparkar districts since Holi, a Hindu spring festival celebrated March 16, said Sanjesh Dhanja. Dhanja is president of the Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust, a Hindu rights group.

In one March 31 attack on a temple in Verhijhap village, Tharparkar District, unidentified men “desecrated parrh (a piece of sacred cloth wrapped around an idol) and stole a trishul,” Tharparkar Hindu activist Arjun Kumar said.

Hindu activists April 1 in Hyderabad protest recent attacks on Hindu worship places in Sindh Province. The Sindh government beefed up security around worship places and took steps to prevent inter-faith violence. [Courtesy of All Hindu Students Hyderabad]

Other incidents of vandalism and arson targeting Hindu temples and deities’ statues took place in Larkana and in Hyderabad District March 15 and 28, respectively.

Civil society responds:

Hindu groups and civil society organisations have responded with demonstrations in several Sindh cities.

“We are very concerned about the spread of intolerance and temples being torched and attacked in areas where citizens of all faiths had long lived in harmony,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said March 31.

The province, traditionally hospitable to Pakistani minorities and home to the country’s largest Hindu community, is slowly falling into the hands of Taliban-minded militants, Dhanja said.

But Hindus and Muslims in Sindh are working together to prove that militants cannot create animosity between the two communities.

One large group organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council demonstrated outside the Karachi Press Club March 31. It called on the Sindh government to protect Hindu temples and take action against the culprits behind the violence.

“Violence against the Hindu community is killing the spirit of religious pluralism that has been a hallmark of Sindhi culture,” Dr. Qadir Magsi, head of the Sindhi nationalist party Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, told Central Asia Online.

It is high time for political parties, civil society, enlightened religious scholars and media to act together to prevent such insanity and promote inter-faith tranquility, Magsi said.

Government efforts: 

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the ruling party in Sindh, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), asked Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The PPP will ensure full security for minorities’ worship places … any discriminatory treatment will not be tolerated,” Zardari said March 29.

Shah ordered police to secure worship places and take firm action against the miscreants, according to a chief minister office statement March 29.

Police have beefed up security around 154 temples in the Hyderabad police range, Hyderabad District Police Chief Sanaullah Abbasi said.

Police are taking the orders seriously and have already made progress.

Tharparkar District police arrested four suspects accused of involvement in the temple’s desecration and recovered the stolen trishul March 31, District Police Chief Muneer Shaikh said, according to the Express Tribune.