RAWALPINDI: It is widely believed that with a gentle pair of wide open eyes and a smiling face the Hindu diety Krishna’s statue probably wants to make it sure that the six or seven devotees gathered for attending the evening rituals also come back for the morning prayers. Accompanied by Hanuman and Ganesh, Krishna “knows” for sure that only his power will keep the small flock of devotees together. If left at the mercy of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) policies, he might wash his hands clean of this small number of people too.The KrishnaTemple in Kabari Market in Saddar locality is the only functional temple of the Hindus of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Two prayers are held every day, in the morning and in the evening. Only six or seven devotees attend these prayers. But they too are not local Hindu inhabitants. Most of them are the ones who have travelled to the twin cities from other parts of the country. On their worldly assignments to the nation’s capital, they prefer to stay at the temple for a night or two, owing to their poor financial condition, a tradition long upheld by the temples in the sub-continent.Built by Kanji Mal and Ujagar Mal Ram Rachpal in 1897, the temple was not established via any huge commemoration. It was a small temple, built only to serve the people of the nearby area. The Mals might not have thought that after six or seven decades this small temple will become the sole place of worship for Rawalpindi’s Hindus. There was no guard at the temple gate when this correspondent entered the temple. A sudden sense of fear ran through the faces of devotees. “Who is this?” shouts one. “Just a journalist,” I replied. “Come on in,” says the prayer leader Jai Raj, adding “I am only an employee of the ETPB. Mr Jagmohan Kumar Arora will answer all your questions. He will be here after half an hour.”Mr Arora, President of the Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council, is on time. He rings the temple bell upon arrival, says a small prayer and comes straight to me. “The temple was reopened after partition in 1949. It was operated by the local Hindus and was handed over to the ETPB in 1970. It worked well till the 1980s when even diplomats residing in Islamabad used to visit it for prayers,” Arora says.“There was another functional temple namely Narayan Mandir in Gawalmandi area. It was attacked by an angry mob in retaliation for the notorious 1992 ransacking of Babri Masjid in India. Babu Lal and his wife Shakuntla Devi, the sevadars (resident devotees) of the temple accepted Islam.” Arora keeps on telling how he fought a legal battle to stop the influential land grabbers eying the temple shops. When asked about the total number of Hindus in twin cities, Arora said that a total of 4,000 to 4,500 believers reside in the twin cities.But the temple seemed capable of accommodating only 100 or so devotees in its small courtyard. He said he has requested the EPTB authorities many a times for the extension of the temple area. “All fell on deaf ears. They don’t listen. When the festivals of Holi and Diwali arrive, thousands of worshippers attend rituals here, like the Muslims do on Eid festivals. The courtyard and upper storey rooms can only accommodate 150 to 200 devotees. This is a big security risk.”He wants the EPTB to build another storey and extend the temple area. “Two temple shops in the custody of the EPTB must be demolished and the courtyard extended. They should also build another storey. Only then we can celebrate Holi and Diwali with peace,” he opines.Arora also complained of the media’s attitude. “They visit us only on Holi and Diwali with fancy cameras in their hands, take a picture or two and depart for the next year. They do not bother to highlight our miseries,” he said.The chief pujari (priest) and the devotees have started ringing the temple bell in order to kick worldly affairs out of their minds and attain a level of Dhayan (Meditative contemplation) before the evening prayer. Krishna appears to be wide awake.