HYDERABAD: A small Hindu temple of Hanuman in Tando Mohammad Khan town was torched in the early hours of Friday, sparking protests by the enraged Hindu community and nationalist parties.
Hindu Panchayat leaders Dr Girdarilal Mirchomal Gul, Babu Patel and Mohan Lal termed the arson attack a conspiracy to trigger riots in Tando Mohammad Khan district and vowed to foil such attempts by exercising restraint.
They, however, urged the federal and provincial governments to bring the instigators to justice.
They said that it was an old temple located near the bungalow of former district nazim Mir Inayat Talpur. Devotees worshipped there till midnight and when they returned at 5am on Friday they found the stone idol of Hanuman blackened with soot and some religious books burnt, they said.
SSP Naseem Aara Panwhar quoted a witness as telling police that four men, who were seen fleeing the area on two motorcycles immediately after the incident, were believed to be involved in the attack.
She argued that the place was not a temple in the exact sense of the word. “It was an elevated platform for keeping idols. In the wake of arson attacks on temples early this year, we had told the caretakers of this temple as well to raise the boundary wall around it and avoid keeping idols and holy books there, but they failed to heed the counsel,” she told Dawn over the phone.
Dr Gul said that the temple which was mostly frequented by members of the Kolhi community did not have a complete roof either. “The caretaker called Baola had taken away all idols of Krishan, Ram and Shiv but kept books and Hanuman there,” he said.
He said that police were cooperating with them and a case had been lodged at the Tando Mohammad Khan police station against unidentified arsonists.
Mohan Lal, who is a nephew of minority affairs minister Giyanchand, said that the minister had sent a team to inspect the temple the same day. “The boundary wall of the temple is hardly three to four feet high, with a small gate,” he said and confirmed that the police had advised local Hindu residents to erect a higher boundary wall around the temple but they failed to do so.
Meanwhile, activists of several nationalist parties and members of the Hindu community staged protests on Phulelli road, demanding protection for the Hindu community and arrest of culprits. They said that such incidents were aimed at harassing Hindus and scaring them into migrating from Sindh.
In a similar arson attack on March 28 this year, a small Hanuman temple was torched near Fateh Chowk in Hyderabad, triggering widespread protests by the Hindu community.
MPA Aijaz Shah Bukhari visited the Tando Mohammad Khan temple and assured Hindu community leaders of complete cooperation while a notable, Mir Sajjad Ali Talpur, announced reconstruction of the temple.