Two videos have been doing the rounds on social media with the claim that the Hinglaj Temple, a UNESCO-recognized heritage site in Pakistan, was recently demolished. Based on the viral video, several news outlets also reported that the temple, located in Sindh province of Pakistan, had been pulled down.

The first video features a picture of a Hindu goddess hung in the middle of a plot of land while some people can be heard raising religious slogans like ‘Jai Mata Di’, ‘Hinglaj Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Hindu Dharma Ki Jai Ho’. A few people are also seen standing with hammers and shovels in their hands. In the second video, the wall and gate of the plot are being razed by bulldozers in the presence of police.

BJP MP and Union Minister Giriraj Singh tweeted the video in November end and claimed that the UNESCO-listed Hinglaj Mata temple had been demolished in Pakistan. (Archived link)

Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesperson Vinod Bansal made a similar claim while tweeting this video. (Archived link)

Right wing account Squint Neon also made a similar claim in a tweet.

Similarly, several media outlets like Live Hindustan, India TV, RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya and Republic TV also reported about this video that the UNESCO-recognized Hinglaj Mata Temple had been demolished in Pakistan.

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Fact Check

While looking into the viral video, Alt News came across a tweet by former Pakistani cricketer Danish Kaneria in which he stated that Pakistani authorities were taking action against Hindu religious sites. He also stated that the demolition was carried out in Mithi of Tharparkar, Pakistan on the orders of the Mirpurkhas Anti-Encroachment Court .

Since Tharparkar is part of the Sindh province of Pakistan and the main language spoken there is Sindhi, we performed a keyword search in the same language on Facebook. This led us to a number of photos and videos related to the incident. A user from Mithi, Tharparkar expressed grief by sharing ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the the same site on Facebook. The houses seen in these pictures are also seen in the viral visuals, which confirms that this is the same location as the one being shared by Indian media, social media users and politicians as the ancient Hinglaj Mata Temple. It is claimed that it is a UNESCO site.

A Pakistani user named Vijay Kumar also posted pictures and newspaper clippings related to this site on Facebook in which there was a mention of a protest by the Khatri community against the demolition of the temple.

Responding to Kaneria’s tweet, Pakistani news channel ARY journalist Sanjay Sadhwani shared a photo and said that there used to be a garbage chute there two years ago. Following that, the encroachment mafia named the temple and constructed a boundary wall.

Alt News reached out to journalist Sanjay Sadhwani from Pakistani news channel ARY for more information. He told us that the location whose video was viral on social media was just 200 metres away from his ancestral home. He revealed that this was not a historical temple or religious site. The row actually involved a land dispute between two Hindu groups and there was no communal angle to the demolition.

The Site is Over 550 km from Hinglaj Temple

Alt News noticed that the incident in the viral video took place in Mithi, Sindh, while the ancient temple of Hinglaj Mata is in Balochistan. There is a distance of more than 550 kilometres between these two locations.

Sadhwani also shared a court order with Alt News (complete file available here) which clearly stated that the case was between Arun vs Paru Mal and others. We also verified the QR code found on this document on the website of the Government of Pakistan.

According to the tribunal document, Arun bought a house in Khatri Mohalla Mithi in front of which a well lay unused for 20 years (the land on which the well was constructed is under dispute). After the local administration relaid the street near the house with concrete pavers, the other parties involved in the case, including the Khatri community, were not happy with the development. They erected a compound wall surrounding the well including open space of around 1000 square feet which was public property/state land. Arun objected to this illegal construction because it was covering the gate of his house. He moved the Anti-Encroachment Tribunal over this.

The opposing party (Paru Mal and others) states that this was not government land but a private property. This land was given to Paru Mal’s grandfather by the competent authority, Tharparkar, in 1936. His grandfather had constructed a well, guest house, and temple on that land in 1936. Members of the Khatri community used to worship at this place. The goddess has been worshipped in that temple since 1936. He added that about 30-35 years ago the old kutcha wall had become dilapidated and fell down during the rainy season. Arun and his father had encroached on the area of the guest house plot and streets’ area. Therefore, in order to save the remaining property, the community members repaired the walls of the temple at the same place.

As per the instructions of the court, a report regarding the matter was sought from the Supervising Tapedar. He visited the disputed site in Khatri Mohalla Mithi and prepared a detailed report which was presented before the court. According to this, there was an old well of the Khatri community on the western side of Arun’s house which was closed and that land was lying vacant. Recently, the Khatri community built a boundary wall with two gates on the north and south side by declaring a temple in the name of Hinglaj Mata at the place of that well. They also made a Thalla (installed idols of the goddess) and erected a flag on the said boundary wall. The land actually belongs to the government, and there is no entry pertaining to this land in the record of rights.

The Mukhtiarkar (an official responsible for inspecting a property and examining witnesses in land disputes) associated with this case checked the documents presented by Paru Mal and revealed to the court that this grant was neither for a temple nor a guest house (dharamshala) for prayer/worship of the goddess. In fact, this grant was only for a well, a hut/chunro like a dharamshala. This grant was for Asaish purposes, and was reserved for cattle grazing and other general use of the village community. It could not be used for any purpose other than its prescribed use. Moreover, there was no entry in the records of revenue rights of the grant in the name of Harchand (Paru Mal’s grandfather who had received this land grant).

In view of the above and under the provisions of the Sindh Public Property (Removal of Encroachment) Act 2010, the court directed the deputy commissioner district Tharparkar, Mithi to take the necessary steps to remove the encroachment from the government property and also remove the encroachment from government land at the expense of the encroachers within 60 days from the date of the order.

While delivering the final execution order on July 10, 2023, district and sessions judge Sultan Ali Leghari of the anti-encroachment tribunal court said that the court order still remained intact. Along with this, the court directed that a copy of the order be sent to the deputy commissioner of Mithi for compliance in letter and spirit within a week.

On November 28, a Facebook page named Thar Samachar had shared the statement of Tharparkar SSP Ali Mardan on the Hinglaj Mata temple in Mithi, in which he stated that a complaint against this temple was filed in the anti-encroachment tribunal by a Hindu man named Arun Lohana. Under this, a case was filed to declare the encroachment illegal and remove this construction. In this case, the anti-encroachment tribunal ruled in favour of Arun. In this regard, this operation was carried out on November 23, 2023. SSP stated that both the parties belonged to the Hindu community. It is wrong to say that any one community has been targeted, and such operations had also been carried out earlier also for places of worship which were built on government land or occupied land.

No Ancient Temple on the Land

On January 12, 2022, Lal Malhi, senior vice president of Sindh province of Imran Khan’s party PTI, tweeted some photos and said that the administration had demolished the Hinglaj Mata temple under construction in Khatri Mohalla of Hindu community in Mithi, Tharparkar.

Responding to this, a user shared a screenshot of the Facebook post of a person named Arjan Khatri. It can be clearly seen in this screenshot that a wall is being built on this plot and there is no temple at this place. According to the court document, this construction had already been pulled down once before by defendant number 10. It is worth noting that when it was first demolished, there was only one door on this plot and one of its walls was slanted. But when it was built for the second time, it was given a frame-like shape and two gates were installed in it, which are clearly visible in the viral videos and pictures. Sanjay Sadhwani had tweeted saying that earlier this place used to be a garbage dumping ground. In the old picture of this plot tweeted by him, it is clearly visible that a wall in the border of the plot was slanted. Earlier, the gate was in a corner, whereas the second time it was made in the middle. Later, after new construction was done on this plot, a shed was installed in one corner and the picture of Hinglaj Mata was installed in it.

In the third point of the court document, on the instructions of the court, the supervising Tapedar had presented the report in the court after visiting the disputed site in Khatri Mohalla Mithi, and stated that the land on which a temple was being built in the name of Hinglaj Mata used to have a well on it which was closed and that land was abandoned. In other words, there was no ancient temple located on it.

Hinglaj Mata Temple not a UNESCO World Heritage Site

When Alt News checked the UNESCO website, we found that there are a total of six World Heritage Sites in Pakistan recognized by the organisation, and it did not contain the Hinglaj Mata Temple.

However, the name of Hinglaj Mata Temple is included in the ‘tentative list’ on the website of UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which means that the Government of Pakistan wants to nominate this site for World Heritage. However, it has not yet received the coveted status.

Actual Video of Ancient Hinglaj Mata Temple

When we searched for the video of ancient Hinglaj Mata temple on YouTube, we found many such vlogs in which the temple was shown. A quick look at these videos clearly shows that this is not the temple which media outlets claimed was demolished by the Pakistani authorities who considered it as an encroachment after a court order.

Hinglaj Mata Temple ha not been Demolished

Runjay Kumar of fact-checking website News Checker spoke to Varsi Mal, general secretary of the Shaktipeeth ancient Hinglaj temple in Lasbela, Balochistan. He revealed that there was no vandalism to the ancient Hinglaj temple.

To sum it up, footage of a court-ordered demolition of an encroachment on disputed land was falsely shared by several social media users, including a Union minister, and several media outlets as the ancient Hinglaj Mata temple being torn down in Pakistan.

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About the Author

Abhishek is a senior fact-checking journalist and researcher at Alt News. He has a keen interest in information verification and technology. He is always eager to learn new skills, explore new OSINT tools and techniques. Prior to joining Alt News, he worked in the field of content development and analysis with a major focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).