The incident occurred after a minor boy was granted bail by a local court in a desecration case
A large mob of people on Wednesday reportedly vandalized a Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan district’s Bhong town and blocked a section of the Sukkur-Multan Motorway after a local court granted bail to a nine-year old Hindu boy who had allegedly urinated in a local madrassa.
Videos of the vandalism and desecration went viral on social media, with local activists saying the perpetrators felt so emboldened that they had actually broadcast the criminal activities live on social media. The videos show a large mob of men wielding clubs and iron rods descending on the temple, breaking glass doors, windows and lights, and hurling rocks at the statues of Hindu deities.
As outrage over the incident mounted, the district administration deployed paramilitary Rangers in the region to keep the peace. Special Assistant to the P.M. on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said strict action would be taken against the culprits. “It is very sad and unfortunate incident,” he said in a posting on Twitter. “[The] P.M. Office took notice of this untoward incident and directed district administration to probe the case and take strict action against the culprits. Pakistani Constitution provides freedom and protection to minorities to perform their worship freely,” he added.
According to local media, the incident was the result of a local cleric, last month, registering a case against a Hindu boy under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. Some Hindu elders apologized for the boy’s actions, stressing he was a minor and mentally challenged. Despite this, hardliners incited locals against the Hindu community after the boy was granted bail, forcing a shutter-down strike, and blocking the motorway to register their protest.
As is routine with such cases, some locals have alleged that the boy’s bail was used as a pretext by some Muslim groups who had monetary disputes with rival Hindu groups.
This is not the first case of Hindu temples being attacked by Muslim mobs in Pakistan. In the past year, at least 8 temples have been vandalized or desecrated, including a temple in Rawalpindi in March; the Mata Rani Temple in Nagarparkar last October; and Lyari’s Hanuman Temple last August.
Despite the repeated occurrence of such incidents, Pakistani lawmakers maintain that these are “isolated” incidents. “Such isolated ugly incidents are used to give a bad name to the country,” said President Arif Alvi last month after a clip of a Hindu boy in Sindh being forced to denounce his religion went viral on social media. “I condemn it and I assure all citizens that we in Riasat-e-Madina cannot and will not allow this to happen,” he added. The temple vandalism in Rahim Yar Khan occurred just over a week later.