8 police officials suspended over attack on Hindu temple in Pakistan

Peshawar: Eight police officials in Pakistan were suspended on Sunday for dereliction of duty after a Hindu temple was vandalised and set on fire by a mob led by members of a radical Islamist party in the country’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

So far, 100 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the incident, the police said, adding that 45 were arrested on Sunday.

Over 350 people have been named in the FIR after the temple in Karak district’s Terri village was vandalised and set on fire on Wednesday by a mob protesting against its expansion work.

Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Zahir Shah said that 100 people, including seven leading figures, have been arrested in the case while efforts were on to arrest all the 350 nominated accused in the FIR.

The leading figures include Maulana Amanullah, Maulana Imdadullah, Maulana Matiullah, Maulana Muhammad Hakeem and Maulana Anwar Zaman.

The arrested accused were produced before an anti-terrorist court which sent them to three days of police custody.

District Police Officer of Karak Irfanullah Marwat suspended eight police officials on Saturday for dereliction of duty.

The temple, which also has a Samadhi of a Hindu religious leader, was attacked by the mob after members of the Hindu community received permission from the local authorities to renovate its decades-old building.

The mob, led by some local clerics and supporters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party (Fazal ur Rehman group), demolished the newly-constructed work alongside the old structure.

The attack on the temple drew strong condemnation from human rights activists and the minority Hindu community leaders.

India has also lodged a protest with Pakistan over the vandalisation of the temple and sought a strict action against those responsible for the incident.

The protest was conveyed to Pakistan through diplomatic channels, sources in New Delhi said on Friday.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has assured that the government would reconstruct the damaged temple and the Samadhi at the shortest possible time.

According to a notification issued by the Chief Minister’s Secretariat late on Saturday night, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has constituted a four-member committee to assess the damage to the temple and develop its reconstruction plan in consultation with the Hindu community.

The committee has been asked to complete the work in 10 days.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has also ordered the local authorities to appear before it on January 5.

The court issued directions to the one-man Commission on Minorities Rights, the chief secretary and the inspector general of police of the province to visit the site and submit a report on January 4.

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, tradition and language with the Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by the extremists.