Cleric who led the mob also in custody
Police have arrested 31 people for setting fire to a historic Hindu temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district, the KP inspector-general said Thursday.
IG Sanaullah Abbasi told reporters in Karak that at least 300 people have been nominated in the FIR. Of them, 31 have been arrested while others are being identified with the help of the video footage.
The Krishna Dwara temple is situated in Karak’s Teri union council. It came under attack by hundreds of residents led by cleric Maulana Muhammad Sharif on Wednesday.
Maulana Sharif is an active member of Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F, according to sources. He surrendered to the police Thursday evening.
In July 1919, Guru Shri Paramhans Dayal was laid to rest at the site and a temple was built there. Muslim residents of the area closed the temple after the Partition in 1947.
In 2015, the Krishna Dwara temple was restored on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The Hindus and the Muslims signed an agreement on December 22 agreeing that the renovation of the temple would not exceed the specified area.
Irfanullah Khan, the district police chief, told AFP that a house adjacent to the temple was recently bought by the Hindu community and was being renovated.
Hindus have not lived in the area since the Partition in 1947 but devotees occasionally visit the temple and the tomb of the Shri Paramhans, who according to Hindu faith died in the village in 1919.
“These people have brought a bad name to our area and tarnished the image of the state,” one resident, Ameen Pashteen, told AFP.
Gopal Kamuany, president of the Pakistan Hindu Council, accused local authorities of standing by as the attack happened.
“In the video of the attack, the administration is just watching silently as the mob dismantles the temple. What kind of justice is that”, Kamuany said.
Earlier this month, the United States placed Pakistan on a list of “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations.
“The destruction of the Hindu temple in Karak is yet another example of persistent discrimination faced by the beleaguered Hindu community in Pakistan”, said Rimmel Mohydin, a Pakistan campaigner at the Amnesty International.