Temple committee chairman kidnapped in Pakistan

The chairman of the committee that manages the famous Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan has been kidnapped.

Islamabad: The chairman of the committee that manages the famous Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan has been kidnapped just two days before the beginning of the shrine`s annual pilgrimage, according to a media report on Monday.

Maharaj Ganga Ram Motiyani was abducted at Lasbela in Balochistan by two men in police uniform.

His followers organised a protest outside the Karachi Press Club yesterday and demanded that the government take steps for his recovery.

"Motiyani`s kidnapping appears to be a conspiracy against Hindus since he was kidnapped two days before the gathering.

"He has not been kidnapped for ransom because he is a poor man," Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a former member of the Sindh Assembly, was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune daily.

Thousands of Hindus, including yatris from India, travel to the cave temple of Hinglaj Mata for a pilgrimage in April.

According to a Hindu myth, Lord Vishnu cut the body of Sati with his flaming disc into 50 pieces, which fell to the earth. Sati`s head fell at Hinglaj.

Hindu leader Chandar Turshani said two men in police uniform arrived at Motiyani`s shop at 8.30 pm and said a senior police official wanted to meet him.

"We contacted the area police station within half an hour but he was not there," Turshani said.

"When we spoke to Motiyani on his phone, he said that he was being taken to meet a major," Turshani alleged.

Motiyani`s family lost contact with him after an hour.

"The provincial and district governments have assured us that he will be rescued but we are clueless about why Motiyani was taken and what condition he is in," said Turshani.

The Hindus of Sindh and Balochistan provinces have recently complained of forced conversions and the kidnapping has added to their insecurity.

Hindus are largely seen as wealthy merchants in Sindh and are considered "fair game" for kidnappers as they do not have the traditional backing of tribal groups, the report said.

Earlier abductions have triggered protests but Motiyani`s case has "hit a nerve", the report added.

A Hindu group from Hinglaj organised yesterday`s protest in Karachi and leaders said that though the Constitution provides rights to all citizens without discrimination, the
Hindus of Pakistan were still seeking equality.

"Our problems are getting worse by the day. (Another Hindu) Asha Kumari has been missing for 41 days from Jacobabad (in Sindh)," said Vankwani.

He added that despite orders from the Supreme Court, nothing had been done to trace her.

"One should question whether Hindus are free citizens of Pakistan? Are we given free religious rights?" said Mangla Sharma, chairperson of the Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association.