India on Thursday hit out at Pakistan saying it has “completely failed” to protect religious minorities and the continued attacks on them are “reprehensible”. This comes a day after a mob attacked a Hindu temple in Pakistan’s Punjab province and damaged the idols therein.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said such incidents of violence and persecution against the minorities continue unabated in Pakistan.
“In addition to attacking the temple, surrounding houses belonging to Hindu community were also attacked. Incidents of violence, discrimination, and persecution against minority communities, including attacks on places of worship have continued unabated in Pakistan,” he said.
The spokesperson added that institutions in Pakistan have “stood idle and completely failed in protecting these institutions and places of worship”.
He said India also summoned Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires on Thursday afternoon and lodged a “firm protest expressing grave concern at this reprehensible incident and the continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority community and protection of their places of worship”.
According to news agency PTI, police said the mob attacked the Hindu temple at Bhong city of Rahim Yar Khan district, some 590 km from Lahore, in reaction to the alleged desecration of a Muslim seminary.
“An eight-year-old Hindu boy last week had allegedly urinated at a library of the seminary in the area that caused tensions in Bhong, where Muslims and Hindus have been living peacefully for decades,” PTI said in its report.
As the mob attacked the temple, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf parliamentarian Ramesh Kumar Vankwani posted videos of the temple attack on Twitter and requested law enforcement agencies to rush to the spot to stop its “burning and vandalising”.
In a series of tweets, he said, “Attack on Hindu temple at Bhong City District Rahimyar Khan Punjab. Situation was tense since yesterday. Negligence by local police is very shameful. Chief Justice is requested to take action.”
NONE ARRESTED SO FAR
Meanwhile, according to District Police Officer (DPO) Rahim Yar Khan Asad Sarfraz, the law enforcement agencies have controlled the situation and managed to disperse the mob.
“Rangers have been called and deployed around the Hindu temple,” he said.
The DPO further said that some 100 Hindu families are living in the area and police have been deployed there to thwart any untoward incident.
However, no one has been arrested in this matter so far.
“Our first priority is to restore law and order and provide protection to the minority community,” Sarfraz said.
Speaking to PTI, another police official said the temple has been “damaged badly”.
“The attackers were carrying sticks, stones, and bricks. They smashed the deities while raising religious slogans,” he said, adding a part of the temple was burnt down.
The police officer said the minor Hindu boy who allegedly desecrated the library of the seminar in Bhong Sharif was arrested last week and booked under the blasphemy laws but subsequently released on bail for being a minor.
“We will arrest those miscreants who incited people to attack the temple,” DPO Sarfraz said.
PAK SUPREME COURT TAKES NOTE OF ATTACK
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken note of the attack on the Hindu temple in Bhong village. In a statement, the court said Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed has expressed “grave concern over the tragic incident”.
“Taking cognisance of the issue, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan has fixed the matter before the court on Friday at Islamabad with the directions to Chief Secretary Punjab and IGP Punjab to appear along with their report,” the Supreme Court said in a press release.