A historic Hindu temple in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province was vandalised and set on fire by an unruly mob of hundreds on 30 December following a dispute over the land occupied by it.
The Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s Samadhi along with the Krishna Dwara Mandir in Teri village of Karak district was vandalised by the mob that claimed the temple had encroached on extra land.
District police officer Irfan Marwat said the mob was protesting the expansion work of the temple. They demolished, he said, the new construction work alongside the old structure. But that is a disputed claim. Rohit Kumar, a representative of the Hindu community, said that the temple did not exceed the agreed area and that residents violated the agreement by vandalising the temple.
The incident unfolded hours after a rally by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) which was held nearby wherein speakers reportedly delivered fiery speeches which charged crowd that later stormed the temple, set it afire and razed it to the ground.
Local Muslims, who make the overwhelming majority across Pakistan, attacked and demolished the Hindu temple first in 1997. After intervention by the Supreme Court of that country in 2015, the local community had agreed to its reconstruction.
Notwithstanding the reconstruction, there was a dispute over the land allocated to the temple. This led to some misunderstanding between the temple supporters and local clerics. Eyewitnesses said that hundreds of people set fire to the building on 30 December. They surrounded and vandalised the temple for hours but police did not intervene.
No case has been registered and neither any arrest made so far in the incident.
Pakistan’s federal Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi strongly condemned the vandalisation by “some anti-social elements”.
Hindus are the biggest minority — and yet negligible in absolute numbers — 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 of population 20.87 crore.
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.
The escape of Pakistani Hindus (rarely, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis) to India under the pretext of tourism during festive seasons, their refusal to return after the expiry of visas and subsequent difficulties in managing their lives in India led the Narendra Modi government to amend the citizenship law of India dated 1955. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, which allows minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for Indian citizenship — the citizenship is not granted to these people by default — was distorted by leftists in India, who misled and provoked Muslims in the country, causing widespread riots across cities in the early months of this year until the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic sent the violent protesters packing home.