India has formally protested with Pakistan regarding the recent vandalisation of a Hindu temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity on Friday. “The matter was taken up officially with the Pakistani side and a strong protest was lodged,” one of the people said.
Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s samadhi along with the Krishna Dwara Mandir in Teri village in the northwestern town of Karak was vandalised on Wednesday by a mob. The mob claimed that the temple had encroached on extra land and set it on fire. At least two dozen people were arrested in overnight raids after the Hindu temple was attacked on Wednesday, according to reports. Some 1,500 people had reportedly participated in the attack on the temple.
The arrests came after the country’s chief justice Gulzar Ahmed on Thursday took suo motu notice of the attack on the place of worship in Teri village. The chief justice took the step after minority lawmaker Ramesh Kumar briefed him about the temple being set ablaze, during their meeting in Karachi on Thursday. The country’s supreme court will hear the case on January 5.
Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri called the attack “a conspiracy against sectarian harmony”. Qadri took to Twitter on Thursday and said that “protection of the religious freedom of minorities is our religious, constitutional, moral and national responsibility”.
Local media quoted advocate Rohit Kumar, a representative of the Hindu community, as saying that the temple hadn’t exceeded the area agreed upon. Meanwhile, dozens of Hindus reportedly rallied in the city of Karachi to demand the rebuilding of the place of worship in Teri village.
The temple was first attacked and demolished in 1997 and the local community had agreed to its reconstruction after the intervention by the supreme court in 2015. There was a dispute over the land allocated to the temple during its reconstruction, leading to some misunderstanding between the temple supporters and local clerics. Guru Sri Paramhans Dayal was laid to rest at the site in 1919 and a temple was built there.
The attack came weeks after the Pakistan government allowed Hindu residents to build a new temple in Islamabad on the recommendation of a council of clerics.