Introduction: Prahlad suryum Temple is situated in Multan, a district of southern Punjab .before partition 50% of the districts population was Hindu. the culture of the city was tolerant Hindu and Muslims lived together without any major conflict .but during the massacre of partition Hindu people were forced to migrate to India , yet some decided to stay .and after some time a few returned from India , missing their homeland. But the situation had changed and Islamic conservativeness was flourishing and no body had an idea what consequences will have to be faced by the minorities as a result of declaring the country as Muslim majority and announcing it as Islamic democratic of Pakistan .
The Hindu places of worship were destroyed talking about Multan city, the moment partition was announced people from a Basti named Basti Malook attacked a nearby Big Sun God Temple .according to the historians and witnesses the Pujari was able to escape only with the idol of Sun God (Bhaqwan Surya). What happened to the rest of wealth stored in the temple and building? No government authority bothered to investigate until today.
The huge shifting of population left many building empty, most of the residential houses and shops owned by the Hindus were allotted to migrant Muslims and temples were left abandoned, or destroyed. in late 50’s a department of Hindu equated property was established to take care of the equated property and places of worships , the department started its work and allotted or gave the temples on lease /rent to people .only in Multan the major Hindu temples were converted into mosques and houses , destroying the sacred scriptures, idols and historical paintings , on Kalma chowk Multan , a temple known as PANJ MUKHI MANDIR is divided into 5 residential units and Hindu equated property department gets the rent of the temple now used as houses.
The Samadhi of king of Multan Dewaan Sawan Mall is being used by the peon of Govt.walayat Hussein Islamiya college .not only this, the tradition of state violating its own constitution continues and Suraj Kund Mandir is given on lease, the contractor has destroyed all its historical and ancient construction and is planning to construct a new plaza over there.
The Legend of Prahlad and Holi:
Amongst all Prahlad Suryum Temple is the not only the most prominent Temple in Multan but the most ancient and sacred temple for all Hindus. As the legend of Prahlad and Holy belongs to this very temple. according to the Hindu scriptures the city was known as Kashyapura named after the King of what is presently known as Multan ,a devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu .As a reward of his devotedness and worship he demanded to be immortal but Bhagwan Vishnu granted him the power to be immune against all weapons. The king became cruel after getting the power, considering him immortal .demanded the people of his kingdom to worship him but his own sun stood against him, preaching the teachings of Bhagwan Vishnu, not to worship any cruel king and practicing his piousness asked his father to stop his cruelty on innocent people.
The king became angry and tried to kill his son but every attempt failed and Prahlad continued his preaching. The helpless King asked his sister Holika (who was immune to fire ) to take Prahlad in the fire and hold him in the flames until he burns to ashes but miraculously opposite happened and Prahlad returned safe leaving Holika burnt into ashes. The King as his last attempt ordered a pillar of Gold to be heated, and ordered to tie his son the pillar to burn him. But this time Bhagwan Vishnu appeard from the cery piller burning red with heat, in the avatar of lion Bhagwan Narsimha. And teared Hiranya kashyapa into pieces, the people of the city celebrated peace by throwing the ashes of Holika into air. This is how Holi (the festival of colors) began from Multan. The Suryum Temple where the pillar was put in fire to kill Prahlad, was named after this legend, which is today known as Prahlad Suryum Temple.
Prahlad Suryum Temple:
The event of Prahlad and Holika took place around 4 million years before (according to Hindu scriptures) this provides the evidence that Temple existed at that time. While in modern history the Temple was first reported By Xian Xang a Chinese traveler who came to this area and stated in his book that a temple in Mulisthan is named Prahlad Suryum Temple and people from whole India come to offer their pilgrimage.
The Muslim Invaders:
Later on Muslim Invaders also witnessed it , including two prominent invaders who looted the local temples , Mohammed Bin Qasim and Mehmood Ghaznavi ,both attracted to the huge riches and gold stored in temples, according to historians only Mohammed Bin Qasim looted 13000 maunds of Gold from Multan city and named it as Darul Zahab (house of gold) the temple suffered through out the time of history including all other temples , in the laters Mughal king Aurangzaib ordered to destroy the historical and most fascinating temple of Multan “jog Maya Mandir” and destruction was followed by the constructin of a mosque at the palce of Temple.
During the war of Multan army and British invaders the heavy cavalary destroyed the whole fort of Multan and temple. Leading by its reconstruction by the help of local Hindu people a Mandit ( hindu religious leader) was appointed in the temple and his salary was collected by collecting money from local shop keepers.this did not ease the pain of the temple when in late 18th century the Magazine of british army which was situated near the temple was destroyed leaving the temple into a burnt destroyed building.
Locals again raised fund without the help of british government and constructed the temple again.
Partition and Pakistan :
At the time partition the mass shifting of Hindu population left half city empty, a city famous for its harmony ,tolerance and festivals was ruined. As stated above in 1950’s the department of Hindu equated property took the Possession of Prahlad Temple and used its land to construct offices of muncipilty and then the building was used as boy’s hostel of Walayat Hussain Islamiya College. The few left Hindus used to visit temple and sometimes offer their devotion to the Lord. But under the fear of Muslim majority never were able to collect enough courage to demand from government the control and possession of temple as it was not a residential building to be considered as equated.
The Massacar of 1992 :
In 1992 during the time of Mian Nawaz Sharif former prime minister of Pakistan. the famous Babri mosque in Kashmir was destroyed by extremist Hindus .this was followed by a huge wave of violent protests in Pakistan , Pakistani Hindus were threatened to life and many were ,murdered, Temples were destroyed , the tradition started at the time of 1947 was kept alive and people of Multan gathered around Prahlad Suryum Temple . a whole week full of violence forced local Hindus to leave the city and shift to safe places without any Government support .the massacre ended after a week leaving the temple into ruins , fallen roof, walls beautifully painted were scratched and wood of roof stolen by drug addicts and locals.
The temple is full of human fesses, bats, have become a place of drug addicts .helpless Hindus being the 3rd class citizens of state see their most sacred temple mourning its condition.
In 2006 the present foreign minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed at the annual ceremony of the URS of Bahaudin Zikriya whose shrine is attached to the temple to facilitate the pilgrimages of URS and orders were executed by department of Muslim Aukaf, a Wuzu Khana (place for Muslims to wash their hands and feet before offering religious prayers) was constructed in the premises of temple
Not stopping on it Shah Mehmood Qureshi inaugurated a Langar Khana again in the premises of Prahlad Suryum Temple in febuary 2008.
Actions of Neengar Society:
The team of Neengar society took action against this illegal construction as according to the constitution NO Muslim construction can be done within the places of worship of other religions. The team went to visit Mr.Javed administrator Hindu equated property in Multan, who refused to meet and provide any details, old maps of the place .we contacted local Hindus who were frightened and were not eager to take a stand as this could risk their life. Our Hindu community coordinator Shakuntla and the only Pandit of Mulatn District Pandit Raj Kapoor assured us of their cooperation and talks with Hindu community.
In January 2010 Mr.Waqas Falak presided the extraordinary meeting of Neengar society and Hindu members to decide a strategy to save the historical and sacred Prahlad Suryum Temple. The meeting was adjourned after passing a resolution by voting that:
- All members of Neengar society including volunteers, executive committee and Board of directors condemn all the actions taken and to be taken to destroy Prahlad temple
- We strongly condemn the violation of constitution of Pakistan which states that all minorities are free to go and use their temples and no individual or authority can conduct any actions to harm the sacredness and status of the places of worship of any religion.
- We demand the constructions done in the premises of Prahlad Temple to be removed on priority basis.
- To avoid any future protests and mass killings of minorities like burning 300 houses of Christians in Gojra District Faisalabad in 2009 and any massacres, and to stop continuous practice of religious biased ness and torture against minorities
- And Proving to be a secular organization and to advocate the basic human rights in Pakistan we recommend following actions to be taken immediately :
To File a case in district high court against the construction in the premises of Prahlad temple and its preservation
- To raise voice on all social forums to address the sensitivity of issue
- To pursue department of archeology and UNICEF and other concerned authorities to take immediate actions to preserve the historical ,social, cultural and religious importance of temple as it was before 1947
- To launch a campaign “Save Prahlad Suryum Temple “ by the help of international Donors ,NGOs, political ,intellectual, secular individuals and students
- To appoint president Neengar society Falak to Take care of all legal matters and campaign ambassador and be the petitioner of the case .
The resolution was passed and to save the Hindus, Mr.Falak himself became the petitioner of the Prahlad Temple Case.
Filing the case:
On priority bases the legal aid penal of Neengar Society filed the case in the leadership of Mr.Saeed Ahmed advocate High court and legal advisor of Neengar Society .on 21st January 2010 ,
Breaking the Silence:
On 23d January Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited Multan. On this occasion the team organized a protest demanding the respect and same status for temple as given to mosque in the country. Media covered the protest and the case became famous.
Stay Orders: on 23 January the court ordered to halt the construction and no further action could be taken to change or destroy the historical temples and to the building or any of its premises
The orders of the court are shown on the next page
Sending the Court Staff to stop the Construction:
The contractor refused to halt the construction and on the next hearing of the case 6th February 2010 court ordered the court enforcement staff to go and stop the construction which is still halted.
Celebration of Holi (Hindu festival of colors):
As stated above Prahlad temple is the very birth place of Holi , the festival of colors ,which is widely celebrated in India without any difference of Hindu or Muslim all celebrate it as an event of happiness and joy . But in Pakistan only Hindu community celebrates it. And before any celebration of Hindu event the community is bound to inform nearest Police station about the event and its duration. Neenagr society demanded police security to celebrate Holi , as this time the situation was different , the city polie officer Saood Aziz refused to provide any security officers , stating that due to Eid Milaad ul Nabi ( festival to celeberatethe birth of Prohpet Mohammed) he cannot spare any of police constables to provide security to Hindu community .even after providing him the information of case and sensitive situation he refused to cooperate further.
The Plan was changed and instead of any open road we decided to celebrate Holi in the area of Hindu community.
The Hindu volunteers of Neengar society played the music on the roofs and celebrated the festival of colors with joy and hope to do the worship in Prahlad temple on next Holi. Team of Neengar society, media persons, and liberals came to take part in the event including the excited children.
In a small yard of 20 square feet we celebrated the event with full esteem and addressed the TV channels about the history and importance of Prahlad Temple which is ruined and is being neglected by the authorities.
The Big Protest of 14 March :
On 14th march Neengar society organized a major peaceful protest of performing the worship of Holi on the road to address the needs and problems of Hindu Minority in pakstan specially Multani Hindus. Muslim and Hindu both participated in the protest with great esteem and all national level T.V channels including BBC urdu service and print media covered the protest and appreciated the efforts
The Life Threats and Secret Agencies: The succesfull protest was finished at 5;30 and right after 30 minutes ISI and secret agencies called Falak ,president Neengar Society accusing him of being an Indian agent and Hindu friendly person . they also followed the Hindu Community Coordinator Shakuntla and asked her questions if she was involved with Indian agencies . right on the news of 9 pm all the T.V channels changed the News and stated that
“Hindu community in Multan District organized a special Poja (worship) for Pakistan and sang National patriotic songs “
This changed the whole spirit and theme of our campaign on national level and we were helpless against government authorities and Agencies. The team immediately called the T.V channels regarding wrong broadcasting of news but no body was willing to talk to Neengar representatives. The whole month of March was full with weekly calls of agencies forcing and threatening us to stop the campaign and withdraw the Prahlad Temple Case.
Using the Internet: the Hindu community assured us of their help and executive committee decided to use internet as a medium to raise voice against this state brutality being practiced against its lawful and innocent citizens .the coordinators designed a video of the Temple and uploaded it on You tube the link to the video is given below:
On the 14th April the government issued a press release stating that it has decided to remove the Langar Khana from the premises of Prahlad Temple .but still after a whole month this news is not even notified and no official has contacted the Neengar Society or appeared in the Court to remove stay orders to replace the Langar.
Meeting of Board and Executives:
Keeping the situation in view Neengar society called the meeting of Board of directors , Executive committee, alliance members and Hindu Community religious leaders and representatives to plan the future strategies as the situation is getting worse day by day. Shakuntla gave a presentation on achievements ,risk factors and threats given to team of Neengar society for fighting the case and the board passed a resolution to recommend further actions .:
The recommendations and future plan for Save the Prahlad Temple Campaign as recommended and passed by the resolution in extraordinary meeting of Board and Executive committee of Neengar Society are as follows:
- Linking with International Organizations
- Taking The issue to united nations organization
- Allocating Funds
- Writing to International Authorities
- Requesting international Media to report the case to international communities
- Updating NGOs ( local and international about current situation)
- Asking International community to pressurize Government to give the possession of Temple to Hindu Community.
- Pressuring the government by the help of international community to assure the security of Neengar team and our Hindu supporters including the Pundit of Temple of Multan.