Peshawar: Pakistani police have arrested 45 more people for their alleged involvement in the vandalisation of a Hindu temple by a mob led by members of a radical Islamist party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
With the latest arrests, the number of accused arrested in the case has risen to 100. Over 350 people have been named in the FIR after the temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district was vandalised and set on fire on Wednesday by a mob protesting against its expansion work.
The arrested people were produced in the anti-terrorist court (ATC) where the police secured three days remand of the accused.
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 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 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 (K-P) chief minister Mahmood Khan has assured that his 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 on late Saturday night, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has constituted a four-member committee to assess the damages caused 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 has issued directions to one-man Commission on Minorities Rights, KP chief secretary and KP inspector general of police 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, traditions and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by the extremists.