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Vandalised temple in Punjab province restored, handed over to Hindus: Pakistan government

People gather outside a Hindu temple that was set on fire by an angry mob after reports that a Hindu boy had urinated in the library of an Islamic seminary, in Bhong, Pakistan August 4, 2021   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Pakistan government has completed the restoration work of the Hindu temple badly damaged by a mob last week in Punjab province and arrested around 90 people involved in the attack that drew strong condemnation from India and the minority community leaders in this country.

Hundreds of people, carrying sticks, stones and bricks attacked the temple at Bhong city of Rahim Yar Khan district, some 590 kms from Lahore on August 4, burning parts of it and damaging the idols in protest against the release by a court of an eight-year-old Hindu boy, who was arrested for allegedly urinating in a local seminary.

The attackers had damaged the idols, walls, doors and electric fittings while desecrating the temple.

An FIR was registered under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code against over 150 people for their involvement in attacking the temple.

"The government has completed the restoration work of the temple and handed it over to the local Hindu community," District Police Officer of Rahim Yar Khan Asad Sarfraz told PTI on Monday.

He said the temple is ready for worship as well.

To a question about how many suspects in the temple attack have been arrested so far, Sarfraz said, "A total 90 suspects have been arrested so far with the help of video footage and they have been produced before a court of law for physical remand," he said.

The official added the main suspects have also been arrested and police are interrogating them.

Another official said the government has engaged workers from Hyderabad in Sindh province to make idols for the temple.

Earlier, police arrested 50 suspects in what Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar called a "shameful attack" on the temple.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday pulled up authorities for failing to stop the attack and ordered the arrest of the culprits, observing that the incident has tarnished the image of the country abroad.

Meanwhile, a Hindu Community leader of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Senator Danesh Kumar, condemned the attack on the temple and termed it a conspiracy against minorities living in Pakistan.

He said it was condemnable that police failed to protect the temple located just 2km from the police station.

He said the Hindu community in the area had informed the police about a possible attack, but the police did nothing.

He said it was unfortunate that such incidents were taking place in Pakistan, adding that these events were tarnishing the image of Pakistan abroad.

Mr Kumar said it was deplorable that the political leadership only issued a statement and no practical step was taken to stop such incidents, creating unrest and fear among the minorities living in Pakistan.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) in Pakistan has also condemned the mob attack and desecration of a temple of the Hindu community, the Dawn News reported.

The attack occurred on August 4 but most of the religious groups and political parties with religious background have failed to condemn the incident allegedly instigated by a local cleric.

In a statement on Monday, the CII said: “Like the lives and property of non-Muslim minorities living in Pakistan, the protection of their places of worship is the legal responsibility of the state.” The CII said no individual or group can be allowed to damage and harass non-Muslim communities in the country.

“Demolishing any of their religious places of worship is a clear violation of Islamic law and Pakistani law,” the statement said, adding that all perpetrators of this crime must be prosecuted in accordance with law.

The council welcomed the government’s decision to rebuild the demolished temple.

India on Thursday summoned the Pakistani charge d'affaires in New Delhi and lodged a firm protest, expressing grave concerns at this reprehensible incident and the continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority communities and their places of religious worship in Pakistan.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

The majority of Pakistan's Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by extremists.


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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 4:55:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/vandalised-temple-in-punjab-province-restored-handed-over-to-hindus-pakistan-government/article35835964.ece

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