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Hindu culture in crisis in Islamic country Pakistan, struggle is also being done for worship in temples

Sakhar: People of the Hindu community wait for boats to go to Sakhar Island on the banks of the Indus River in Sindh province of Pakistan, where a nearly 200-year-old temple called Sadhu Bela is located. As soon as the Sadhu Bela temple complex is seen, people start clapping and shouting loudly, “Sadhu Bela Amar Rahe!” Thousands of Hindus come here every year in Muslim-majority Pakistan for various festivals and events, including Diwali. The island was gifted to the Hindu community two centuries ago by wealthy Muslim landlords of Sindh, which is unimaginable in present-day Pakistan.

Most of the Hindus in today’s Pakistan are marginalized and cases of persecution are common. About 4 million Hindus live in Pakistan, which is 1.9 percent of the total population. Of these, 14 lakh Hindus live in Sindh. There is no ban on the worship of Hindus in Pakistan, but Hindus openly say that they are not able to worship regularly. The decades-long enmity between India and Pakistan remains a challenge for the minority community. Many people in Pakistan call Hindus as India’s, while Muslims in India have been complaining of discrimination.

But the old impression remains intact in Pakistan and especially in Sindh. There are temples here, although their numbers have declined. Apart from this, Hindus have their own business, educational and health institutions, which were established before the formation of the country in 1947. They are part of the heritage of Pakistan.

Sadhu Bela is still buzzing with devotees.
Diwan Chand Chawla, a local politician and general secretary of the Pakistan Hindu Temple Management Committee, spoke about the origin and characteristics of the temple. In the year 2023, 200 years of construction of this temple will be completed. It was built by the artisans of the Indian city of Jodhpur and reflects the architectural style of the Taj Mahal. Chawla said, “A large part of the Hindu population migrated to India after Pakistan came into existence, but the people living here are happy and prosperous. I am thankful to the Muslim community of Pakistan, who fully support us at every opportunity. We follow the law and have the support of the government.” However, his claim is not accepted by most of the people.

Rights groups have long alleged that Pakistan is not doing enough to protect the freedom of religion and belief of Hindus. For this they cite desecration of temples, attacks and kidnappings on Hindu businesses, homes and individuals, forced conversions, etc. Chawla is not the only politician to express his views on the image of religious coexistence in Pakistan. Waqar Mahdi, a senior advisor to the Sindh chief minister, said, “The majority of the country’s Hindu population lives in Sindh province satisfactorily, peacefully and without any fear or danger.”
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Mahdi said provincial authorities have prioritized protecting the rights of minorities such as Hindus and Christians. But Zahida Rehman Jatt, a lecturer in anthropology and social sciences at Sindh University, said that due to increasing extremism and fundamentalism in the country, discrimination against Hindus has increased. Due to this intolerance, Pakistan is at risk of weakening its affiliation with the Hindu heritage, he said. He said, “It is sad because they (Hindus) have a huge contribution in Pakistan. Most of the Pakistanis are not aware of the importance of Hindu heritage or the contribution made by Hindus and Sikhs for the betterment of Pakistani society.



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