Peshawar, December 31
Pakistani police have arrested 26 people belonging to a radical Islamist party after a Hindu temple was vandalised and set on fire by a mob protesting its renovation in northwest Pakistan.
A central leader of radical Jamait Ulema-e-Islam party, Rehmat Salam Khattak, is among the 26 arrested in raids following the attack on the temple at Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district on Wednesday, Station House Officer Rehmatullah Khan told PTI.
The mob, led by the supporters of Jamait Ulema-e-Islam party (Fazal ur Rehman group), protesting the expansion work of the temple, demolished the newly constructed work alongside the old structure.
The incident drew condemnation from human rights activists and the minority Hindu community.
Pakistan’s federal Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi strongly condemned the attack on the temple.
Noting that some groups are active in carrying out such anti-social activities to defame Pakistan, Malhi said the government would not tolerate such incidents.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan termed the attack on the temple as “an unfortunate incident”. He ordered immediate arrest of those involved.
Khan vowed that his government would protect worship places from such incidents.
Leader of Hindu community in Peshawar, Haroon Sarab Diyal, said that a samadhi of a Hindu religious leader existed at the temple site and Hindu families from across the country visited the samadhi every Thursday.
He said the incident had hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community and the Islamic Ideology Council should take note of it.
Diyal said Prime Minister Imran Khan talked about promotion of religious tourism in Pakistan but minority worship places were not safe in his own country.
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 live 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 the extremists. PTI