“It was a regular day when I stepped out of my house to visit the temple. My name is Ravi and I am a Hindu. As taught by my parents, each day I visit my deities in the nearest temple. That day too I was on my way to Soha Temple, the most ancient one in my locality. The Soha temple used to be a corner stone of the Mohalla Soha – a suburb of Haripur. But when I reached at its location, the temple had been demolished. There was only rubble and sand left at the site. Shocked, I looked around to find my friend Hari sobbing in the corner. His father was the priest of the temple and had gone to the authorities to file the complain. After consoling him, together we waited for his father to return.
Hari’s father told us that the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) , which is responsible to protect and preserve worship places of minorities has ‘sold’ the place. The owner of the land , who wished to create a commercial complex here, had ordered to demolish the temple. Hari’s father was angry and so was I. How could they do this? Founded by Sikh Governor Hari Singh Nalva in 1822, Haripur once had around 12 to 15 Hindu temples and three gurdawaras. However, today only four or five temples remain, along with a gurdawara located in the main Haripur bazaar and now hosts a primary school. And now another temple was gone. What is the use of all those laws for protecting the minorities when at last our rights are abused by the same protectors.
Fumed by the incident, we returned home and found some officials along with a police inspector waiting at Hari’s house. They looked at us and smiled. Over a cup of tea, they ‘warned’ Hari’s father to keep quiet regarding the incident. They told him to forget about it other wise he will loose his house too. I could sense the threat in their voice. Though Hari’s father didn’t seem to be afraid. After the officials left, he pledged to fight for it. The temple was just not a mere building for him but it was his second home, his soul and duty.
Today, he has raised the matter with higher authorities and still struggling for justice. Sometimes while looking at him, I think what would have happened if it was a Mosque? Being a minority is being helpless in Pakistan. Time and again we are reminded that we don’t belong here. We are regularly tortured, either by burning our houses, demolishing our temples or by just using the blasphemy law against us. Earlier, I only read all this in the newspapers but now I know how it feels to be a minority in Pakistan.“