ibnlive » India

Nov 25, 2006 at 05:29pm IST

Temple razed in Almaty, row starts

New Delhi: The demolition of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON ) temple in Kazhakstan has snowballed into a raging controversy. ISKON devotees, protesting the incident, went on a rampage outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Delhi.

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 devotee, from Kazakhstan who was on a pilgrimage to India, when Khazakh authorities bulldozed her house in the ISKON 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 ISKON 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.