An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Saturday sent the main accused, along with 55 others, arrested in the vandalism of a Hindu temple by a mob led by members of a radical Islamist party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to police custody for nine days. The court also remanded another 56 accused in the case, including Maulvi Sharif who is said to have incited the crowd, to judicial custody.
The temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's (KP) Karak district was attacked last week by the mob after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate its decades-old building. The mob had demolished the newly constructed work alongside the old structure. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Sanaullah Abbasi said on Friday that Faizullah, who was identified as the main accused, was arrested from Karak district. He is said to have instigated and facilitated the mob for attacking the temple and damaging the Samadhi of a religious leader there. The attack on the temple by members of radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party (Fazal ur Rehman group) drew strong condemnation from human rights activists and the minority Hindu community leaders. Police have filed complaint against 350 people in the case.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to start reconstruction of the damaged temple and instructed authorities to recover the money for the restoration work from the attackers whose act has caused "international embarrassment" to 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 the extremists.