Islamabad: A wave of protest has swept through Pakistan’s Narowal district as the Hindu community raises their voices against the cessation of temple worship. Local authorities intervened to halt the functioning of the district’s last two remaining temples. The properties were subsequently leased to the Evacuee Trust Property Board, prompting a fervent outcry from the Hindu community. Accusations also emerged that the seized temples were being repurposed for alternative activities.
According to reports from Pakistani media outlet Dawn News, Hindus are grappling with the challenges brought about by this abrupt curtailment of their religious freedoms. The discontent within the Hindu community stems from the fact that the absence of dedicated places of worship has impeded their ability to perform vital religious rituals, such as marriages and funerals. They have been left with no option but to conduct their rituals within the confines of their homes.
The repercussions of this decision have forced the Hindu minority to undertake arduous journeys to cities like Sialkot, Lahore, and Rawalpindi during the festivals like Holi, Diwali, and Raksha Bandhan. The scarcity of temples in the Narowal district has accentuated the obstacles faced by the community in celebrating their cultural and religious events. Official records indicate that there are approximately 1,253 Hindus residing in Narowal district.
Critics argue that the Pakistani government’s approach to protecting minority rights is inadequate, often manifesting as an umbrella response to the escalating violence and discrimination against these communities. Reports further highlight instances where law enforcement officials refuse to address issues related to the abduction, forced conversion, marriage, and rape of women and girls belonging to religious minorities.
The Hindu community’s struggle for their rights has also reverberated in Karachi, where a minority rights march was organised last day. Protesters demanded an immediate end to the practice of forced conversions, shedding light on the broader issue of religious intolerance faced by minorities.