By Abdullah Zahid.
A Hindu temple was set ablaze and razed to the ground by a charged mob led by supporters of a cleric in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district, officials confirmed on Thursday.
According to police officials, as soon as the incident was reported, a heavy contingent of police reached the site and dispersed the mob.
Video clips circulating on social media showed a crowd breaking apart blocks of the temple structure’s walls using stones and sledgehammers, as dark smoke from a large fire billowed into the sky.
Following the incident, the District Police Officer of Karak told Dawn News TV that area residents had called for a protest, guaranteeing it would be peaceful, but a local cleric instigated the crowd to resort to violence.
Area residents, according to the DPO, reported that the shrine was being “secretly expanded” which angered them.
Sharing latest development on the matter, the local police said they detained at least 14 people in overnight raids and more raids were underway to arrest individuals who participated or provoked the mob to demolish the shrine.
Situated in the Teri village of Karak district, the historical temple and Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi was being restored and expanded according to a supreme court ruling in 2015. The shrine was earlier destroyed and taken over by a local mufti in 1997.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Thursday took suo motu notice of the burning of a Hindu temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak. Report has been sought from chief secretary KP and others regarding the incident and fixed the matter for hearing in the apex court on January 4.
‘Minister condemns burning of Krishna Dwara temple in Karak’
Upon hearing the news, the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari took to Twitter and “strongly condemned” the attack.
“Strongly condemn the burning of a Hindu temple by a mob in Karak, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. KP government must ensure culprits [are] brought to justice,” she stated.
Mazari said the government would be investigating the incident. “We as a government have a responsibility to ensure safety and security of all our citizens and their places of worship,” the minister wrote.
Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs, Noorul Haq Qadri, called the attack on the temple “a conspiracy against sectarian harmony.”
He took to Twitter on Thursday, saying attacks on places of worship of minority religious groups are not allowed in Islam and “protection of religious freedom of minorities is our religious, constitutional, moral and national responsibility.”