During the British Raj, there was a small but vibrant Jewish community in Karachi, which was renowned even then for being a multi-ethnic city. One member of the Jewish community, Abraham Reuben, was even elected to the post of councilor of the Karachi city corporation, the forerunner of the KMC, in 1919. Many members of the community left after the founding of Israel and more left after the Arab-Israeli wars led to increased anti-Jewish feeling in Pakistan. Of those who remained, many succumbed to old age and disease, but urban legend has it that a few still live on in deliberate obscurity. And those who died here have left their mark on the land.
Mehrunissa, the 62-year-old caretaker of the cemetery was born in a small room located inside the cem
Funds to maintain the cemetery are drying up. “Some people come once a year, they donate money and leave. We’ve paid for some of the maintenance ourselves such as the construction of the boundary wall around the cemetery,”
Nearly 5,000 graves are present here. Many are broken, and nettles and thorns adorn the site.
Mehrunissa, is a member of one of the six families that live on the cemetery’s grounds. Raving against the government for neglecting the place, Mehrunissa says the land mafia has repeatedly tried to take over the land. “We have repeatedly filed First Investigation Reports with the police about this. We’re the ones who have been safeguarding this place. people were present in the city, according to Ibrahim, but have married within Muslim families. There was once a Jewish synagogue here too – according to Karachi’s residents, who had seen it. It was a small building located at Nishtar Road in Saddar. However, it was torn down in the 1980s, and a shopping plaza now stands in place of the synagogue.
One of my Parsee friend’s Father told me that there was a Jewish synagogue in Manora, and the Jewish graveyard in Karachi. The Jewish families used to tell people that they were Christians because their features resembled them, and they wore shalwar kameez.
“People come here and take pictures, but no one comes to help us maintain this place,” complains Mehrunnisa as I leave, “but we will continue to do so.” As one looks at the state of disrepair that the Jewish cemetery and the MerewetherTower exist in, one can only hope that these symbols of a once vibrant Jewish community remain for the next generation of Pakistanis to witness. She also told that we are not getting money any more from any Jewish Family any more.