Punjab IG says over 95 men arrested so far
Identify the men who attacked the temple in Rahim Yar Khan’s Bhong and make them pay for the damage, the Supreme Court ruled Friday in a suo motu hearing of the case.
On August 5, a video of charged men attacking a mandir went viral on social media. They broke the windows and shouted Allah-o-Akbar as they vandalised the temple. The Supreme Court ordered the immediate arrest of the culprits.
The Punjab police have arrested 95 men so far.
In a hearing on Friday, Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail ordered the police to identify the attackers and submit a challan against them.
The trial court should, without any delay, announce the final verdict in the case within four months, he said, adding that the prosecution should ensure the witnesses are presented in court.
The chief justice has instructed the commissioner of Bahawalpur and deputy commissioner of Rahim Yar Khan to appear before the court at the next hearing.
The advocate general of Punjab told the top court that bandits in Rahim Yar Khan are threatening and attacking residents.
“In today’s time are the police still not equipped to fight bandits,” the court asked. To this, the advocate general replied that the area is connected to Sindh where the bandits enter from.
“Clear all the bandits and ensure foolproof security of the area,” the court instructed Punjab IG Inam Ghani, stressing that the authorities should take steps to ensure the security of minorities in the area.
The advocate general updated the court on the arrest of the non-Muslim boy who was arrested for entering a seminary in the area and desecrating it.
“The SHO, who arrested the boy, should be immediately arrested and suspended,” the court ordered.
Justice Mandokhail said that the attack was not related to religion, but was a product of the mismanagement of police in the area. “Police officers are appointed on the basis of their connections.”
When the temple in Balochistan’s Zhob was restored, Muslim scholars and leaders were the chief guests, he went on to say.
The court has instructed the police to present a report of the attack within a month.
On Tuesday, Rahim Yar Khan Deputy Commissioner Khurram Shehzad, the Pakistan Army, and Rangers personnel visited Bhong and handed over the keys of the temple to local Hindu leaders.
“A boundary wall has been constructed outside the temple and repairs of the mandir’s exteriors have been completed,” Shehzad said. “The cost incurred in its renovation will be recovered by the attackers.”
The district administration has devised a security plan for the temple and the people living in nearby areas.
“Repairs of the idols destroyed inside the temple will take some time,” Hindu Council spokesperson Lal Das Soni said. “Experts have been called in and it’s expected that the renovation will take at least two months.”
Hindus will resume religious activities at the temple after the idols are repaired.
Soni added that the attack is one example of a major challenge, which can’t be countered in a day. “All of us, Hindus and Muslims, live here like brothers. The people who attacked the mandir weren’t believers. They had nothing to do with religion.”
According to the police, around 10 days before the attack, a seminary or madrassa teacher lodged a complaint that a young non-Muslim boy entered the seminary and desecrated it. The police registered a case and arrested the boy.
He was, however, released on bail in a few days. In protest, a mob shut down the city and blocked the M5 motorway. The police tried to negotiate with the protesters but failed. Consequently, the protesters attacked the temple.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the attack on the temple and showed “grave concern over the tragic incident”.