Hindus woke up on July 15 to see Mari Mata Mandir demolished. Mayor Murtaza Wahab tried to deny the facts until Sindh Provincial Government confirmed them.
by Massimo Introvigne
It takes a notable degree of effrontery to deny that a demolished building has been destroyed. Yet, this is what the controversial Mayor of Karachi, Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui, whose June 2023 election was tainted by accusations of fraud, had the impudence of stating after the demolition of Mari Mata Mandir, a historic 150-old Hindu temple in Soldier Bazaar in Karachi.
The demolition had been reported not only by the Hindu community through its organizations and Twitter accounts, but also by “Dawn,” Pakistan’s newspaper of records and the most important English-language daily in the country.
Mayor Murtaza Wahab decided to pick up a fight with “Dawn” and claimed on Twitter and television that the temple had not been destroyed. It was all Hindu propaganda and fake news, he said.
The mayor’s claim was false. Netizens posted images of bulldozers and cranes destroying the temple in the night between July 14 and 15. When they woke up, local Hindus found the external wall with the gate intact but the internal inside structure demolished. They also claimed police cars were there to protect the destruction work.
The images Mayor Murtaza Wahab posted to argue that the temple had not been demolished are of a nearby home where a devotee had taken some of the statues while parts of the temple were being renovated.
Finally, the Mayor’s lies were exposed when on July 18 the matter was debated in the Sindh Provincial Assembly. Responding to written and oral questions by Assembly members during Question Hour, Minority Affairs Minister Giyan Chand Essarani confirmed that Mari Mata Mandir had been demolished. He blamed “a builder who wanted to construct a plaza there” and did not answer questions on whether the local police protected the operation.
The Minister assured Assembly representatives that the government will reconstruct the temple at its own expenses. The Hindu community remains vigilant as in the past in Pakistan similar promises have been made but not kept.