High court wants free access for Hindu community to temple in Pakistan

The Sindh High Court (SHC) restrained the private respondents from causing any hindrance to access of the Hindu religious community to the Mari Mata temple, from where a taziya is taken out on Ashura.

Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who headed the two-judge bench, passed this direction on a petition against alleged encroachment over land of the place of worship by a converted Muslim woman.

Justice Helpline, a non-governmental organisation, had approached the court seeking custody of the worship place of the Hindu minority.

The petitioners said that Mari Mata Temple, which is located on plot 303-B at Sister Sequeira Street, Rattan Talao, on Akbar Road, is a historic place of worship of the Hindu community.

After riots broke out in the city in 1992, following the demolition of Babri Masjid in India, the woman, Lakshmi Bai, had saved the temple by placing a taziya there, recalled the petitioners.

Bai, who later converted to Islam after the 1992 riots, is now illegally occupying the property, they alleged. They added that Bai was not allowing members of the Hindu community to visit the temple and worship there.

Therefore, the court was pleaded to order the authorities to retrieve the temple from the private respondent and hand it over to the Hindu community to look after it and perform their religious rites.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Abdullah, the husband of the respondent, Bai (now Fatima), appeared in response to the court’s notice. He informed the judges that he visits the temple in the evening to light diya and then leaves. However, he undertook that the he has never nor will create any hindrance for the Hindu community in using their temple.

Taking his statement on record, the judges ordered the woman and her husband to abstain from causing any hindrance in the way of the Hindu community from worship in the mandir or its compound.

The petitioner, Atam Parkash, further says that they intend to withdraw the permission to keep taziya, which was granted by the Panchayat. While disposing of the petition, the judges observed that in case the petitioners withdraw permission, it will be open for them to act in accordance with the law and also to pursue their remedy as per law.

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