Temple Razed in Almaty, Row Starts

November 26, 2006 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

BY NEELU VYAS

Nov 25, NEW DELHI, INDIA (CNN-IBN) — The demolition of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Kazhakstan has snowballed into a raging controversy. ISKCON devotees, protesting the incident, went on a rampage outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Delhi.

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While the Kazhakh authorities claim the temple was built illegally, devotees call it a religious persecution.

Life could not have taken a more ugly turn for Rati Manjari, an ISKCON complex devotee, from Kazakhstan who was on a pilgrimage to India, when Khazakh authorities bulldozed her house in the ISKCON complex.

“I have no roof over my head in this winter time. It’s not only me, there were mothers with children. Where will they go?” Kazak Hindu devotee Rati Manjari said.

She is not the only one; 10 dozen ISKCON devotees were pushed out of their homes in the winter chill as authorities knocked down their houses into rubble.

The incident has assumed communal overtones, with the Hindu community alleging it is a case of religious discrimination.

“Nothing will happen to the Christians, nothing will happen to the Muslims. But it’s the Hindu’s and particularly the followers of Lord Krishna who are targeted. It is selective discrimination,” ISKCON Central Asia Head, B B Govind Swami said.

The Khazah authorities claim that the temple was constructed on illegally purchased land. “It’s a civil case and the demolition has nothing to do with religion,” said Kazak Ambassador Kairat Umarov.

Lord Krishna devotees plan to take this protest globally and more so because British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken up this issue with the President of Kazakhstan.

In a related story from ANI news service, Kolkata:

ISKCON Protests Against Demolition of Temples in Kazakhstan

Scores of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) members held a protest rally here today against demolition of temples in Kazakhstan and called for an immediate halt of alleged harassment of Hindus in that country.

Protestors said at least five Hindu houses and a temple belonging to the ISKCON were demolished on the outskirts of Almaty in Kazakhstan earlier this week.

The protestors raised slogans condemning the action of Kazakhstan Government and said India should raise the issue at the international level.

“The purpose of the rally is to show support and solidarity for all the Hindus, who are suffering persecution and suffering government sponsored attacks across cities in Kazakhstan,” said Vardhakrishna Das, Vice President, ISKCON.

“Our demand is that they are minorities, they are Hindus. In our country also we have minorities and we are asking that on the basis of religion, there should be no discrimination, persecution or atrocity in the society. This is a very barbaric and inhuman practice and we are protesting against this,” Vardhakrishna added.

According to press reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also raised the issue with the Kazakhstan President during a meeting in London on Wednesday.

A spokesperson of ISKCON alleged that the rights of dozens of Kazakh citizens belonging to a religious minority were being violated.

ISKCON activists have been for quite some time now alleging the Kazakhstan government for harassment and discrimination of Hindus.

In September, over one hundred members of a local Hare Krishna temple, the Hindu-Jain Temple Association, and other Hindu organizations and interfaith groups, had protested in front of the Kazakhstan embassy in Washington, carrying a dozen placards that called upon the government in Kazakhstan to stop the alleged “abuse and mistreatment” of innocent Krishna devotee, Vaishnava Hindus, in that country.

A simultaneous protest had taken place in New York City. Following the recent demolitions, protests were also organised at the London Stock Exchange during President Nazarbayev’s visit.

Kazakhstan is the largest and one of the wealthiest of the countries in the Central Asian region. Although it was considered a liberal society, there have been allegations of harassment of religious minorities like Protestant Christians, non-state-controlled Muslims and Hindu sects.

Incidentally, Kazakhstan is not a signatory to the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was established in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada). ISKCON has since developed into a worldwide confederation of 10,000 temple devotees and 250,000 congregational devotees.

Better known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON is comprised of more than 350 centres, 60 rural communities, 50 schools and 60 restaurants worldwide.

The mission of this non-sectarian, monotheistic movement is to promote the well being of society by teaching the science of Krishna consciousness according to Bhagavad-gita and other ancient scriptures.

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