More calls for protection of Hindu sacred spaces after another criminal act

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Caretaker Dhanraj Maharaj points to damaged audio equipment at D’Abadie Maha Vishnu Mandir on Monday after bandits broke into the temple. – Photo by Roger Jacob

ANOTHER call is being made for the protection of sacred spaces and for people to embrace a future of inclusivity.

The call is coming from the PRO of the Compass Foundation, Narmada Ramjit Singh, after yet another act of vandalism at the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) D’Abadie Maha Vishnu Mandir on Mausica Road.

This is the third such incident in Hindu sacred spaces in recent weeks, despite the assurance by the police to increase patrols in the lead-up to Divali on November 12.

Caretakers discovered the D’Abadie temple broken into on Monday morning, and its PA system, microphones, speaker boxes, gas tanks, an amplifier and bottled water missing. It is believed the incident occurred between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Ramjit Singh said these repeated acts are taking an emotional and physical toll on the community.

“It is indeed deeply disheartening to receive reports of yet another distressing incident of crime targeting a place of worship. This sacred sanctuary, which should serve as a haven for spiritual reflection and communal harmony, was callously violated when it fell victim to an act of sheer audacity and lawlessness.”

Ramjit Singh said they will not be swayed by fear or intimidation, “for it is only through a resolute stance against such malevolent deeds that we can reaffirm our commitment to justice, tolerance, and the principles of respect that underpin the fabric of our diverse society.”

She said these acts of disrespect and theft perpetrated against Hindu temples reverberate beyond the immediate victims, reaching into the very heart of societal values.

“Such occurrences not only inflict anguish upon the Hindu community but also chip away at the bedrock of respect and tolerance that should be embraced by all in a multicultural and pluralistic society.

“We must refrain from trivialising these crimes as mere acts of petty theft, for such casual dismissal only serves to embolden those with ill intentions,” she said in reference to the position adopted by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that these incidents were not hate crimes.

The two leaders rejected the notion the attacks were based on religion, because of TT’s multicultural and multi-religious disposition. Identifying other churches and mosques which have been subjected to such incidents, they referred to them as opportunities for criminals and miscreants at soft targets, which the worship places represent.

Ramjit Singh said, “To belittle these transgressions is to inadvertently grant them a degree of acceptance, thereby creating an environment conducive to even greater and more audacious attacks.

“It is our moral duty to employ our voices as instruments of change and advocacy. We must fervently advocate for enhanced security measures, increased patrols, and heightened vigilance in the vicinity of religious institutions.

“As we use our voices, we can reiterate our shared commitment to interfaith harmony strengthening the bonds that unite us in our rich tapestry of diversity we call TT.”

In addition to the burning of an effigy of Rawan at the Ramleela grounds at Tarouba, the stoning of a temple in Freeport and damage to devotees’ vehicles while they were praying. other forms of sacrilege have been perpetrated at Hindu temples, including the cooking of corned beef in its sanctuary. The cow is sacred to Hindus who refrain from eating beef..

SDMS secretary general Vijay Maharaj believes these acts represent religious hate crimes and has been at odds with both Dr Rowley and Persad-Bissessar, who did not subscribe to that view.

Maharaj accused them both of trivialising the matter.