Islamabad: Authorities must apologise to the Hindu community for demolishing a temple in Karachi and hurting their sentiments, a Pakistani daily said on Wednesday.

An editorial in the Dawn said the demolition of a Hindu temple in Karachi's Garden area on Saturday raises disturbing questions and is "a prime example of the callous attitude that officialdom often has towards this country's non-Muslim citizens. The authorities need to uncover the facts of the matter, especially regarding ownership, and apologise to the Hindu community for having hurt their sentiments by demolishing the temple. Even if the structure was illegally built, the community should be given an alternative site to build the temple. And if this is not the case and the demolition was illegal, then the temple should be rebuilt as it was," the editorial said.

There is reportedly a dispute between a builder who claims to own the structure and the matter is in court. Yet the Pakistan Hindu Council and residents claim they were not given advance warning before the demolition squad showed up and that "religious objects were desecrated during the operation".

Community members claim they have been living in the location for over a century. They say they have been harassed to vacate the land. Though an official claims no place of worship was damaged in the `anti-encroachment' operation, images in the media of Hindu idols surrounded by rubble "makes such denials questionable".

The editorial said it was not assuming that the temple was deliberately targeted. "Yet the matter should have been handled more tactfully considering the sensitivities, specifically the fact that a place of worship was involved. Would such action have been taken if a mosque had been built on illegally occupied land instead of a temple?" the daily asked.

The daily pointed out that clumsily handled situations such as this only add to the discomfiture of minorities living in this country. As it is, in many instances non-Muslims have hardly been given equal treatment in Pakistan and have been increasingly marginalised with the growth of extremism, it said and added that in such circumstances, disrespecting a non-Muslim place of worship only adds to the alienation.


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