RAHIM YAR KHAN: Hundreds of people reportedly vandalised a Hindu temple in Bhong town (60km from here) and blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5) after a nine-year old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated in a local seminary, was granted bail by a local court on Wednesday.
Responding to the situation late in the evening, the district administration deployed rangers in the area after Deputy Commissioner Dr Khuram Shehzad and District Police Officer Asad Sarfraz visited the town.
Sources said on the complaint of a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran, the Bhong police had registered a case against the boy under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code on July 24.
They said some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged. But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest.
Protesters also block motorway for three hours
A video clip viral on social media showed charged people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights and damaging the ceiling fans.
Later, the protesters also blocked the M-5 motorway for more than three hours.
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said the rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
About the alleged late response by the police authorities, sources said senior officials were busy attending the police martyrs’ day ceremonies.
Mr Cheema confirmed the accused was a minor, and added that so far he had no information about his mental health.
There are reports of some old monetary dispute between Hindu and Muslim groups in the area which was stated to be the actual cause of the unrest.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh).
A PTI member representing minorities (who did not want to be identified) said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.
He said the boy was sent to the Rahim Yar Khan district jail for security reasons.
The district and sessions court had granted bail to the boy four days ago.
The Rais family, according to him, had settled the issue amicably, but a local from the Sumro tribe ran a campaign against the minority community on social media which ultimately caused the unrest.
He said after getting the Bhong market closed, the mob also tried to attack some houses of the people belonging to the Hindu community.
M-5 spokesman Amer Sardar said as the motorway remained closed for almost three hours, traffic was diverted to the National Highway via Iqbalabad and Guddu interchanges.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2021