SC orders police to arrest culprits behind temple attack

Published August 7, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Punjab police chief Inam Ghani and other officials leave the Supreme Court after the hearing of the temple attack case on Friday.—AP
ISLAMABAD: Punjab police chief Inam Ghani and other officials leave the Supreme Court after the hearing of the temple attack case on Friday.—AP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Punjab police to immediately arrest culprits who had recently attacked a Hindu temple in the Bhong area of Rahim Yar Khan while expressing displeasure over police failure to safeguard the temple.

Dismayed at the lack of professionalism on part of police, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed regretted that vandalism at the Ganesh Mandir had brought shame to the country as police acted like silent spectators.

The CJP observed that the culprits at large could cause problems for the local Hindu community and sought assurance that such incidents would not happen again. He said peace committees should be set up to promote interfaith harmony.

CJP deplores police failure to safeguard temple

The case must have been solved by now had the police handled the tragic incident in a professional manner, the CJP observed while heading a two-judge bench, also consisting of Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed. On suo motu notice, the SC had taken up the hearing on the tragic incident.

Punjab’s Chief Secretary Javaid Rafiq Malik and Inspector General Police Inam Ghani appeared before the court.

The court deplored that not a single offender had been arrested though the incident occurred three days earlier.

The parliaments across the world had expressed concern over the tragic incident of vandalism, said Justice Amin, emphasising that a sense of protection and safety must be instilled among the members of the minority communities living in the country.

Additional Attorney General Sohail Mehmood told the court that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken cognisance of the incident. The court observed that the chief executive might continue with the matter but the court would proceed on the legal front.

Imagine what mental agony the desecration incident had brought to the members of the Hindu community, the chief justice regretted.

Justice Amin deplored that the act of urination by a minor boy had ignited the incident and while citing media reports wondered whether the boy passed urine because of the torture he faced at the mosque.

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 SHO who arrested the boy must be suspended, the chief justice said.

Meanwhile a report furnished by IGP Ghani assured the Supreme Court that no stone would be left unturned in protecting the lives, property and honour of members of minority committees in the province.

A special team headed by the SP investigation of Rahim Yar Khan had been constituted to arrest the culprits, which was identifying the offenders through human intelligence and video footage of the incident, the report said. Raids are being conducted to arrest the offenders.

Tracing the chain of events, the report said on July 25, Hafiz Mohammad Ibrahim, Mohtamim of Madressah Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran, Bhong, reported to police that on previous day he had witnessed a boy passing urine in the library of the seminary. The boy fled when he tried to catch him.

A complaint was registered at Bhong police station under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, also including the allegation that the boy had pasted stool on an almirah of the library, the report said.

The complainant nominated Bhavish Gordan, son of Gordan Jee, aged about eight to 10 years, as accused through his supplementary statement.

The boy was arrested on July 26 and was produced in the court of the area magistrate, who sent him to judicial lockup. However, he was released on July 28 on post-arrest bail granted by the senior civil judge of Rahim Yar Khan.

Subsequently on Aug 4, a post was shared by one Abdul Razzaq on the social media stating that “after today if any Hindu is found eating in the pots of Muslims, he will be responsible, particularly in Bhong”, the report said.

When police began probing the facts, some elements started agitating and the people from Kacha Razi (adjacent riverine area of Rajanpur district) gathered in Bhong on the instigation of one Qari Usman of Kacha Razi. The police responded to the situation and engaged the agitators to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, a request was made to call Rangers / Army to assist police in controlling the situation. At around 4pm about 100 to 150 agitating people blocked the M-5 motorway in the Bhong area and started raising slogans against Hindu community.

Consequently, the report said, another contingent of police was sent to the spot with senior officers in command to address the situation. Police were also deployed at the temple as a precautionary measure and some of these protesters came to police for dialogue to settle the issue.

Meanwhile, a group of charged people carrying weapons, sticks and bamboos assaulted policemen deployed at the temple and vandalized the temple at 5pm, according to the report. The attackers damaged the idols, walls, doors and electric fittings while desecrating the temple.

On receipt of information about the incident, the IGP directed the district police officer of Rahim Yar Khan and the regional police officer of Bahawalpur to reach the spot and control the situation.

The area was subsequently cleared by 8pm.

The report said three cases were registered on Aug 4 by police acting as complainant on behalf of the State: the second for blocking the motorway and third for desecrating an Alam (religious flag of Shia sect).

Meanwhile, Rangers arrived at the site at 8:30pm and were jointly deployed with police in the area.

The report said there were about 60-70 houses of Hindu people around the temple but they faced no violence.

The report said mostly the people of the Kutcha area had attacked the temple.

The report also said 1,928 police officers/officials may be recruited to meet minimum requirement of police force in all districts of Punjab for permanent deployment at places of worship of minority communities. A summary to this effect has been moved to the chief minister of Punjab for approval.

Meanwhile federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has called for awarding exemplary punishment to those involved in the incident.

In a media talk, he said Pakistan was not India and no fascist ideology could rule here and no one was allowed to hurt sentiments of the Hindu community.

He said it was duty of all Pakistanis to respect the two colours in the national flag in which white colour represented minorities.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2021

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