Hindus in Karachi protest on Dec. 31 against the desecration of a temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (Photo supplied)
Pakistan’s top court has ordered the reconstruction of a century-old Hindu shrine that was damaged by a mob last month in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
During the Jan. 5 hearing, a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed stated that the cost of restoration should be recovered from the people who vandalized the temple.
“They will repeat the same act unless they pay from their own pocket. A security post is adjacent to the building. What were the intelligence agencies doing? Why did police allow entrance of the protesters? The incident has defamed the country,” the judges stated.
On Dec. 30, hundreds of villagers led by local clerics stormed the temple in Karak district of the northern province and set it on fire. The mob also attacked an under-construction house allegedly occupied by a Hindu man. According to reports, clerics made provocative speeches against the alleged expansion of the temple, leading to the attack.
A dispute about illegal occupation of Krishna Dwara Mandir in Karak has surfaced several times.
In 1997, the shrine was dismantled in a similar attack after a cleric claimed to own the property. The temple was restored on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2015.
According to residents, the police failed to intervene and arrived after several hours in the latest incident.
Police claim 190 people have been arrested over the temple attack, while 92 police officers have been suspended.
Amar Nath Randhawa, president of the Hindu Sudhar Sabha (Hindu Welfare Society), welcomed the court ruling but demanded a permanent solution to attacks on temples.
“Minority communities are raided after the alleged desecration of a single page with Islamic content. Our holy books and a whole building were set ablaze. Strict punishment should be handed to the attackers,” he told UCA News.
“The Hindus of Pakistan have been branded as infidels. We are facing hatred due to conflict with India. We have never been involved in any anti state activities. The state should protect us as per the constitution.”
Peter Jacob, the Catholic director of the Centre for Social Justice, condemned the ongoing intimidation of religious minorities.
“We welcome the standing order but deep down there is intolerance that exists in country pockets. The crisis undermines our social fabric. There is an ongoing trend of attacks on places of worship and hate speech against minority religions. The state should do more than customary interfaith gatherings and symbolism,” he said.
In January 2019, a Hindu temple in Chachro in Tharparkar district of Sindh province was vandalized by unidentified individuals.
In February 2019, an attack on a Hindu temple was reported in Khairpur, Sindh.
In October 2020, a group of extremists attacked a temple in Nagarparkar.
Another historic Hindu temple was demolished in Karachi on Aug. 16 last year.