20 arrested, over 150 booked in Pakistan for attack on Hindu temple
Police in Pakistan's Punjab province on Saturday said they have arrested 20 people and booked over 150 others for their alleged involvement in an attack on a Hindu temple in a remote town of the country, a day after the Supreme Court admonished the authorities for their failure to protect the shrine.
A mob attacked the Ganesha temple at Bhong city of Rahim Yar Khan district of the province, some 590 kms from Lahore, on Wednesday in protest against the release of an eight-year-old Hindu boy, who was arrested for allegedly urinating in a local seminary.
"We have so far arrested over 20 suspects allegedly involved in attacking the temple in Bhong," District Police Officer (DPO) of Rahim Yar Khan Asad Sarfraz told reporters.
He said more arrests are expected in the coming days as police are identifying the suspects through video footage.
An FIR has been registered under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code against over 150 for their involvement in attacking the temple, he said.
"We will arrest every suspect involved in this crime. On the order of the apex court, restoration work of the temple has been started," he said.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday pulled up authorities for failing to stop the attack and ordered the arrest of the culprits, observing that the incident has tarnished the image of the country abroad.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed said that vandalism at the temple had brought shame to the country as police acted like silent spectators.
The Chief Justice wondered at the arrest of the eight-year-old boy and asked whether police were incapable of understanding the mental capacity of the minors.
The hearing in the case has been adjourned till August 13.
Pakistan's Parliament on Friday condemned the temple attack.
The National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution condemning the attack. It was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan.
"This House strongly condemns the ransacking of the temple," the resolution stated.
"The Constitution of Pakistan provides complete protection to the rights of minorities and this House also affirms that the rights of minorities and their places of worship will be fully protected. The whole nation and government are united on this point, it said.
It said that the House reassures the Hindu community and Pakistan Hindu Council of their safety."
India on Thursday summoned the Pakistani charge d'affaires in New Delhi and lodged a firm protest, expressing grave concerns at this reprehensible incident and the continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority communities and their places of religious worship in Pakistan.
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 extremists.