Lessons to learn from Pakistan

published on July 30, 2008

Hindus struggle to take back Manora temple


KARACHI: The Hindus of the city are struggling to take complete control of the located historical Manora Island temple dedicated to Hindu god Varun Rai. They want to acquire rights to 11,000 square feet that the temple is built on, instead of the 2,500 square feet that the Pakistan government recently handed over.

“We have repeatedly requested the federal and provincial governments to hand over the complete temple area to the Hindus so that they can renovate and reconstruct this historical temple and perform their routine religious ceremonies, but despite our continuous requests, we have received only a quarter of the total area,” said former minority MPA Sindh Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani.

Vankwani said that the temple is about three centuries old. It was last renovated by the British government in 1930 and till a few years back, about a dozen statues of god Varun Rai, Shiva Ling and other statues of different gods and goddesses were kept there. Some are still present. The official records of the British government confirm the lease and the area of the temple. “We have official copies of the record which says that the temple had a total area of 11,000 square feet,” said Vankwani. Quoting it, he said according to the official letter (DD-Government 1183/2/P4/172/1942, dated February 2, 1943) registered in the official book of the Government Land Record (GLR) Volume 1, the British government leased an area of about 11,000 square feet for the temple.

Manora is an island spread over 2.5 square kilometers on the southern side of the Karachi port and is connected to the Sandspit area by a 12-km long walkway, where this historical temple is located and till a few years ago, about 5,000 Hindus were living near it. But recently they were forced to leave the place and thus the population on island has dropped by half.

“In 1973, the Pakistan Navy took the control of the area by force and Hindus were restrained from visiting this temple, but when we approached the government, 2,500 square feet of the temple were returned to the Hindus and we have decided to renovate the temple, for which the community collected about Rs 7 million but recently, we were directed to stop construction and thus the boundary wall has not yet been built,” said Vankwani.

The members of the Hindu community collected donations to provide potable water, electricity and other utilities. “We are grateful to the government for giving us the main building, but for the religious ceremonies and to park vehicles, we need more space and also we request the government to provide sufficient funds for the renovation of the temple,” said Hindu leader Hari Motwani. Quoting a historical book by Sindhi author Lok Ram Dodija, Motwani said that in the early 1920s, hundreds of Hindus, men and women, gathered every Wednesday for routine worship. “We demand that the government provide security and facilities to the temple so that community members may visit this historical temple regularly,” said Motwani.

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