Hindu temple leader shocked and saddened after food bank and library trashed

Leaders of the Hindu Society of Calgary say they’re shocked and saddened after a food bank and library meant to help people struggling during the pandemic were vandalized.

The supporting legs were neatly sawed off the food bank and library overnight Tuesday and the structures pushed into the snow.

The incident has left society members and others asking why someone would target them.

“It feels so sad. I’m sick from my stomach,” said Raksh Joshi, president of the Hindu Society of Calgary.

“I don’t know why someone would do it,” said Joshi.

Joshi says the vandalism happened between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

The “take a blessing, leave a blessing” food bank was donated to the temple by local group Love With Humanity Association, which has constructed and donated other food banks and libraries in and around Calgary.

The association’s Syed Najam says the food bank was a gift to help people in need and that his group condemns the vandalism. He says it won’t stop him in his mission to spread love and bring a smile to people’s faces.

The large food bank had its legs sawed off and was pushed over in an overnight attack this week. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The food banks allow people to access food and essentials with no questions asked — as well as for people to leave items for others.

“It is one of the busiest locations,” said Joshi.

The temple is located in an industrial area in Vista Heights and has been there for more than 40 years.

“People were taking whatever they need and leaving whatever they had extra and it was going wonderful, excellent,” he said.

The food bank and library stood directly outside the temple gates on City of Calgary property. They were put there with all the proper permissions needed, according to Joshi.

It was opened last month and has been endorsed by Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal as well as MLA Leela Aheer.

A small, multicultural library was also targeted, sawn off at the base and left in the snow outside the Hindu temple. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“All community members, Sikh, Muslim, are all with us. They’ve been helping us and nobody would do this kind of act. They are the ones that provide food to us,” said Joshi. 

Joshi says food and books that weren’t damaged were moved inside the temple.

“Hopefully we’ll find out from the video cameras who did it and why they did it,” said Joshi.

“This is a very inhuman act.”

Some in the South Asian community are worried the vandalism was carried out to create divisions in the community. Others hope it was a random attack. 

Joshi says he has reported the incident to Calgary police.

He says he wants the community to stay calm, peaceful and in harmony while they work out what happened.

“We love all communities, we want to work with all communities,” he said.

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