KARAK: A highly-charged mob on Wednesday, reportedly led by local clerics, vandalised and set ablaze a historic Hindu temple in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Karak district, officials said.
The temple in Karak’s Terri area was considered a site of pilgrimage for Hindu community due to its importance as a Yogi Astan. However, local residents were resentful due to the ongoing renovation work in the temple and they attacked the building, demolished it and then set it ablaze.
Police and local authorities were unable to prevent the incident due to the large number of people involved. The historic temple became non-functional after the Partition when all local Hindu families migrated to India but four years ago it was handed over to the Hindu community by the Supreme Court (SC) and ever since it was a site for pilgrimage for the community from all over the country especially from Sindh who paid a weekly visit to the site every Thursday.
Local clerics were reportedly not happy over the decision and repeatedly demanded the closure of the temple.
“There was a weekly bazaar in the area for which people from all the nearby areas come to Terri town and some miscreants took advantage of it and encouraged the visitors to stop the renovation work in the temple,” said Wazir Zada, CM’s adviser on minority affairs in KP.
Terming the incident as “unfortunate”, he said that he was himself on his way to the affected area along with other government dignitaries.
“This a sacred site for the Hindu community and each week and month a large number of people visit it from all over Pakistan,” he said, adding that the provincial government had ordered the inspector general police (IGP) to take strict action against those involved and police had already started raiding houses of the suspects with the help of the video footage being circulated on social media.
“The IGP has already reached Karak. District police officer is himself leading the police force involved in raids and arrest of the culprits while DC [deputy commissioner] is assisting them,” Wazir Zada said, adding that he asked the IGP to tighten the security for religious places of minorities across the province.
Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, while condemning the incident, urged the KP government to ensure the culprits are brought to justice.
“MOHR [Ministry of Human Rights] also moving on this. We as a govt have a responsibility to ensure safety & security of all our citizens & their places of worship,” she wrote on her official Twitter handle.