Minorities’ places of worship in Sindh provided with no security

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KARACHI: The Sindh government, last year announced a Rs400 million project to protect temples, churches, and gurdwaras by installing surveillance cameras and appointing security guards, given the grave state of the security currently in these places. However, like many projects initiated by the government, this too has not been worked upon.

Official sources in the minority affairs department told a private media outlet more than 1,200 worship places of minorities are present in Sindh and the majority of them lack permanent security arrangements.

A senior official in the minority affairs department elaborated that, “In 2014, when a mob set a temple in Larkana on fire, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ordered strict security arrangements at all temples, but nothing has been done so far,” adding that different feasibility reports were prepared and projects designed but nothing was done.

“A budget of Rs400 million was allocated last year to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and monitoring systems at all minorities’ places of worship, but this project is nothing more than a document,” continued the official.

According to official records almost 700 temples, 494 churches, and six gurdwaras are present in the province where the government had to deploy two policemen at each site, but the deployment depended on the law and order situation in the country.

“Whenever bomb blasts occur in the country, the government orders police to tighten security at our worship places,” said Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Diwan Chand Chawla. He said that, “A few days ago I was astonished to see that there were no policemen at Sadh Belo in Sukkur, which is famous for its highly revered Hindu temples”.  Chawla, who is himself from Sukkur, said, “There are nine running temples and two main churches in our city area, but poor security arrangements are a matter of great concern.”

He said that two years ago, the Sindh government had also announced to appoint security guards from the minority community at their worship places, but this project could also not be implemented.

Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Minority Affairs Dr Khatumal Jewan told a private media outlet that a committee comprising representatives of four departments – finance, planning and development, IT and minorities affairs – has been formed to look into this matter.

He said, “We have finalised each and every thing and handed over this project to the information and technology department to award tenders for CCTV cameras and monitoring rooms at each temple, church, and gurdwara.”

“In a few days this process will be started,” he said, quashing the impression that there was poor security at the worship places of minorities. “Two cops are deployed at each place,” he remarked.

When asked about the appointment of security guards from minorities, Chawala said, “This plan has so far been shelved,” adding that appointments in the name of different sects will not be feasible. “If we appoint Hindu guards for temples then people from each faith will approach for the same demand, so the government has postponed the plan,” he said.