The police sealed a construction site where a pre-Partition Hindu temple was allegedly demolished by a builder on Monday.
Dozens of Hindu families had gathered at the site on the narrow streets of Fida Hussain Sheikh Road in Lyari after they heard that the Hanuman Mandir there had been razed the previous evening.
Soon after, Lyari assistant commissioner Abdul Karim Memon arrived with the police and, inspecting the temple that had been reduced to a pile of bricks , sealed all three doors of the construction site, where a residential building is to be erected.
“We have initiated an inquiry,” he told The Express Tribune after sealing the location, adding that he had sealed it so that the probe could be carried out.
“It is an injustice as a place of worship has been destroyed,” decried an elderly onlooker, Mohammad Irshad Baloch. “It was an old temple. We have been seeing it since we were children.”
A resident of the area, Heera Lal, informed The Express Tribune that there had been 18 families living near the temple. “We were assured by the builder that the temple would not be destroyed,” he insisted, adding that the demolition had taken place late on Sunday evening.
“No one was allowed to visit the temple during the lockdown,” explained Haresh, another resident who often visited the temple before. “He [the builder] exploited the situation [of the pandemic] and demolished our place of worship while we could not visit it,” he cried, demanding that the temple be restored.
He, too, claimed the builder had promised the area’s Hindu residents that the temple would not be demolished, adding that all the families living around it were even assured of alternative housing.
As the news spread, several of Lyari’s Hindu residents trickled to the temple, voicing their disappointment and anger as they spoke to the officials present there.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mohan Lal, a Hindu activist, accused the builder of threatening members of the minority community who had assembled at the site and highlighted the temple’s demolition.
“We tried to enter the temple but were denied entry by the builder,” he narrated, adding that the man had deceived the residents living there. “We will not allow anyone to demolish our places of worship in this manner,” he added.
Meanwhile, South deputy commissioner Irshad Ahmed Sodhar told The Express Tribune that there had previously been two temples there, according to the Hindu families living at the site, but one of them had already been moved earlier.
He reiterated that an inquiry had been launched into the incident, adding that they would examine all aspects of it. “A committee will be formed for the purpose, including an archaeologist, and the probe will be completed within seven days,” he claimed. “We will ensure that everyone will get justice.”
The builder could not be reached to comment on the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2020.