Hindu spiritual leader kidnapped in Pakistan

Lakki Chand Garji is the `maharaja` of the Kali Mata Mandir in Kalat town.

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2010, 13:33 PM IST

Islamabad: A leading Hindu spiritual leader of Pakistan was kidnapped at gunpoint in Balochistan province while he was on his way to officiate a wedding.

Lakki Chand Garji, 82, who is the `maharaja` of the Kali Mata Mandir in Kalat town, is considered to be one of Pakistan`s most revered Hindu spiritual leaders. He was kidnapped on Tuesday night, the Express Tribune reported on Thursday.

As the news of his abduction spread, hundreds of Hindu community members blocked the key highway that links Karachi and Quetta, bringing traffic to a halt for several hours.

Hindus demanded that the government secure the immediate release of their spiritual leader.

Garji along with five people was travelling from Kalat town to Khuzdar to attend a marriage ceremony.

The media report said that he was intercepted by armed men who kidnapped him.

The people accompanying him were later released.

"A vehicle was chasing us and intercepted us at a deserted place near Surab, some hundred kilometres away from Kalat," said Babo Lal, who was one of the five men released by kidnappers.

"The kidnappers tied our hands from behind with rope and blind folded us, thus I do not know where they were heading," Lal was quoted as saying.

Lakki Chand Garji has been the `maharaja at Kali Mata Mandir for the past 60 years and he has command on several languages including Balochi, Hindi, Sindhi, Persian and Brahavi, his devotees said.

Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Balochistan province Chief Minister, told the media that he believed it was an incident of kidnapping for ransom and did not have religious overtones.

Raisani directed law enforcement agencies to secure the release of the Hindu community leader at the earliest.

He observed that kidnapping cases had risen in certain areas of the province.

The protests by the Hindu community members took place in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki.

Hindu community elders said that that they are being targeted by criminals.

Community leaders Nand Lal, Raj Kumar and Chander Kumar said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the people, particularly those belonging to the minority community.

The Hindu Panchayat Quetta took out a rally from the Arya Samaj Mandir in Quetta and went through Jinnah Road, Masjid Road, Shahra-e-Iqbal and Mannan Chowk of the Baloch capital city.

IANS