One evening in July, 2001, the author happened to meet in Delhi a young man working for
the British foreign office. By an unusual coincidence, he happened to have looked through The
Saffron Book by the author. He said he liked it, but for one of its sections entitled Humiliation.
This section describes a few temple desecrations. It also claims that those temples,
although converted into mosques, still look more like mandirs and should therefore be
returned to the Hindus. This suggestion had seemed mischievous to the young man who
incidentally had a fair idea of India. He was no one to deny the facts of history but
asked: why dig up the past? How can medieval wrongs be righted with the help of modern
retaliation? In any case, India has many socio-economic priorities. Surely getting temples
back, is not one of them.
The author tried to explain to the young man the slavish mentality that afflicts some
of us Hindus due to the trauma of atrocities committed by the invaders. Now we need to
regain self respect and self confidence. He was evidently not registering any of the
author's explanations. Mind you, a social gathering was not the best place to either
discuss a book or a temple or a historic trauma. At the same time, his having raised the
point, the author had to convince him especially because we might not meet again. The
author therefore told him that his impression that temple desecration was only a medieval
phenomenon was wrong. It is a continuing crime. Any number of temples have been destroyed,
demolished or set on fire during the last one decade. At first, the British gentleman did
not believe the author.
The author therefore had no choice but to get from him, his address. So that he could send
him the actual details of the kind of havoc that fanatics have perpetrate on the temples
in the subcontinent. In a way, this encounter with the young man was helpful. But for him,
the author might not have compiled the list, and certainly not obtained details of
desecration in Pakistan. A testimonial for what has been happening in Bangladesh was best
given by the persecuted Ms Taslima Nasrin.
A Muslim lady certifying the desecration of temples in her own country
was, for the fair minded British individuals more than sufficient proof. The author's
quoting boots and records by Indians, especially Hindu, about the Kashmir Valley and
Pakistan might not have been quite so readily convincing had he not been able to quote ad
lib from Nasrin's Lajja. Little do people realise that Hindus have, seldom in
history, recorded the destruction of their own temples. All contemporary records of the
past were written by Muslim chroniclers. One of the first of these was Al-Beruni, who
wrote at length about the exploits of the notorious iconoclast Mahmud Ghazni.
Subsequently, British archaeologists, surveyors as well as historians
and soldiers began their yeoman's contribution to India's heritage, its discovery,
descripbn aswell as significance. Very little of these invaluable records have been
included in the books on Indian history, which have pretensions of scholarship. Some 3,000
temples, over and above the recent ones, that the author is going to mention, were
desecrated. But very few of the episodes have found their way into books of history. About
the only ones popularly known are Somnath, Benares and Mathura. Of the rest, temple
destruction can be described as India 's ignored history.
Lest the author sound antagonistic towards either Bangladesh or
Pakistan, let him begin with the destruction that has taken place in the Kashmir Valley
since 1990. He is quoting from a book called Kashmir: Wail of a Valley by R.N.
Kaul, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi. Amongst the prominent temples to be set on fire was
the Dashnami Akhara in Srinagar. It is the mandir from where the annual summer pilgrimage
to Amarnath begins. Ganpatyar temple has been attacked again and gain including by bombs.
It has also been subjected to two separate rocket attacks. The Shiva temple at Jawahir
Nagar, a well known locality of Srinagar, was yet another object of attack. At Anantnag,
the targets of violence were the Raghunath as well as the Gautam Nag mandirs and the
triple temple of Lok Bhawan. The Wanpoh mandir which had been almost completely
demolished in1986, was again desecrated on 21st February, 1992. The Mattan mandir
was instantly converted into a Muslim shrine by namaz, being said. In all, some 70
Hindu places of worship have been desecrated. This list is based on the information
available in Kashmir: Wail of a Valley. The list is given in Appendix I that
follows this chapter.
Another list of 46 desecrations which were perpetrated during 1986 or before is given
in Appendix II. It is important to note that many of the temples which we have listed in
Appendices I and II, were attacked long before the Babri edifice was demolished on
December 6, 1992. Is it not surprising that hardly any protest was made or
heard while these demolitions were taking place? Is it not even more amazing how much
noise was made and continues to be made over a single edifice at Ayodhya? Evidently, a
sense of proportion is not our virtue. However, credit must be given to the popular daily Hindustan
Times for what it published on 8th July, 1985:
There was a mass exodus of the members of minority community from
the state of Jammu & Kashmir to other parts of the country. This was a dangerous trend
which should be stopped. There was indeed a sinister conspiracy to throw out the Hindus
and Sikhs from the valley so that the designs of complete Islamisation were fulfilled.
Having established his bonafides, by first talking about Taslima
Nasrin, the author has dealt with his own country, namely, the Kashmir Valley. He now
proceeds to Pakistan, where a total of 244 places of worship were destroyed after the
Babri Masjid incident. These include one gurudwara and one church. The provincewise
distribution is: Sind 134, Baluchistan 42, NWFP 7 and the Punjab 61. The names and the
locations of some places of worship desecrated are listed in Appendix III.
A slaughter house now operates from the site where once there was a
Gurudwara at Ratan Tata Road, Karachi. The Gurudwara was reportedly destroyed long ago.
Coming back to Bangladesh, according to Ms Taslima Nasrin, 62 temples
were destroyed in 1990, a clean two years before and not after the Babri edifi ce was
brought down. In her words:
...they are angry when a mosque is destroyed, don't they realize
that Hindus will be just as angry when temples are destroyed? Just because one mosque has
been demolished must they destroy hundreds and hundreds of temples? Doesn't Islam profess
On the morrow of 6th December, 1992, there was mayhem in many parts of
Bangladesh. Quoted below is one list of the killings, damage and destruction compiled by
In Golokpur, thirty Hindu women were raped. Chanchali, Sandhya,
Moni... Nikunja Dutta had died. Bhagavati, an old lady, had been so terrified that she
dried of a heart attack. In Golokpur incidents of daylight rape were reported. Even women
who had taken refuge in Muslim homes were being raped.
Fourteen hundred maunds of betel nuts belonging to Nantu Haldar were
burnt to ashes at Das' Haat Bazaar.
The police magistrate and DC were mute spectators to the destruction
of temples at Bhola city.
The jewellery of temples was openly looted.
A Hindu washermens' colony was burnt to cinders.
At Manikgunj, they destroyed the Lakshmi temple, the community Shiv
temple, the goldsmith lanes of Dashara and Kalikhala and the big beverage and cigarette
godowns of Gadadhar Pal.
Three truckloads of people raided the police stations at Twara,
Baniajuri, Pukuria, Uthli, Mahadebpur, Joka and Shivalaya.
- Three kilometres from the city, Hindu homes were looted and burnt in the Betila village.
- The century old Naat mandir of Betila was attacked.
Jeevan Saha's home at Garpara was torched; three cowsheds were burnt
to ashes; hundrds of mounds of paddy were lost in the flames.
Hindu shops at Terosree Bazaar under Ghior police station, and Hindu
houses at Gangdubi, Baniajuri and Senpara were burnt down. At Senpara, a Hindu woman was
raped as well.
The Kali temple of Pirozepur, the Debarchana Committee Kali mandir,
the Manasha mandir, the Sheetala mandir, the Shiv mandir, the Narayan mandir, the
Pirozepur Madanmohon Bigraha mandir, the Kali temple of Roykathi, the Krishnanagar Rai
Rasaraj Seva Ashram, the Dumurtala Shreeguru Sangha ashram and mandir, the Kali temple at
Suresh Saha's home in Dukheri Dumurtala, the Manasha mandir at Naren Saha's house in
Dumurtala, the Manasha mandir at the ancestral home of Ramesh Saha, the community Kali
mandir at Dumurtala, the temples at the homes of Sucharan Mondal, Gouranga Haldar,
Harendra Nath Saha, Narendra Nath Saha, the Kali temple beside the Dumurtala high school,
the Ranipur Panch Devi mandir, the community mandir of Hularhaat and Kartick Das'
furniture shop, Kali mandir, the Kalakhali Sanatan Ashram, the Jujkhola Gour Govinda Seva
Ashram, the Harisabha Sanatan Dharma mandir, the Kali mandir at the home of Ranjit Seal,
the Jujkhola community puja centre, the community Durga mandir near the Gabtola school,
the temple in Bipin Haldar's house at Krishnanagar, the community Kali mandir at Namazpur,
the temple and math at Kalikathi Biswas's home, the Lairi Kali mandir, the community
temple of Inderhaat, under Swarupkathi police station, the Durga mandir Kanai Biswas' home
in Inderhaat, Nakul Saha's cinema hall, the Durga mandir at Amal Guha's home, the temple
at Hemanta Seal's house and the Kali mandir at Jadav Das' house at Mathbaria police
station were all set ablaze
The Shiv mandir at Mistripara in Syedpur was also destroyed.
The community temple at Rathdanga village of Narail district, the
Ghona community mandir, the Kudulia community crematorium Nikhil Chandra Dey's family
mandir, Kalipada Hazra's family temple, Shivprosad Pal's family temple, the family temple
at Dulal Chandra Chakraborty's home in Badon village, Krishna Chandra Laskar's family
temple, the Taltala village community temple, the family temples of Baidyanath Saha,
Sukumar Biswas and Pagla Biswas at Pankabila village, the community temple at Pankabila
village, the Narayan Jiu mandir at Purbapara Daulatpur under Lohagara police station were
all ransacked and demolished.
Ten temples at Khulna were razed to the ground.
Four or five temples along with houses were looted and plundered at
Raduli in Paikpara and at Shobonadas and Baka villages.
- Two temples were destroyed in the Talimpur area under Rupsa police station. Hindu homes
adjacent to it were also looted.
- At Langalboa village, Gobinda Prosad Roy's home was raided by two hundred people at the
instigation of Moazzem Hussain. A person by the name of Kamal Biswas was seriously
injured; it was possible he would succumb to his injuries.