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Protect places of worship

CONDEMNING what they call vicious acts of sacrilege, a group of religious leaders have written to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, asking them to protect their places of worship.

The letters, penned by the group’s attorney Ashvani Mahabir, will be delivered today.

At a press conference at the Las Lomas #2 temple and Ashram yesterday, Pundit Param Maraj said the temple was broken into and robbed last Tuesday.

This is the second robbery since the temple opened in February and Maraj estimates losses at $25,000.

Public Relations Officer of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Pundit Mookram Sirju, head of the Satya Anand Ashram Pundit Satyanand Maharaj and Imam Abraham Assif Ali joined Maraj as they called for justice.

Maraj said he began construction on the temple two years ago after he retired as a security officer and used his own money to complete the project so far. “Many people choose to do other things with their retirement and their money, but I decided to this with my retirement, every cent that I had I spent here,” he said.

“I told police, if it is my brother or my cousin, I don’t care- let them go down-I am calling on the authorities and whoever is in charge, in an act of desperation on my part I would the authorities to come forward to stop the targeting of these places of worship.”

The thieves stole eight stockpots, five big pots, six basins, five gas tanks and one ring stove.

Yesterday, Maraj begged them to return the pots, saying they are family heirlooms. “To these women or men who took these wares, please bring it back.

“These wares were handed down from my mother and my father, many years ago.

“My father bought these pots and they were handed down to me and I in turn want to hand it down to my children and the next generation.” Pundit Satyanand Maharaj said Hindus are often viewed by criminals as being easy targets.

“The government needs to know we are hurting as a community because of their inaction.

“This is not a rural robbery at a rural temple, it is not a one-off incident.

“Hindus are considered a soft target,” Maharaj said.

“After it happens one, twice, three times it’s no longer a coincidence, it simply means we are a softer target and perhaps we need to be more vigilant.” However, he warned citizens not to turn to vigilante justice, saying taking matters into their own hands can make them just like the criminals.

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