52 rounded up in RYK temple attack case

Punjab police chief says raids, search operation underway to arrest others.


Our Correspondent August 08, 2021
PHOTO: Screengrab

LAHORE:

Police have rounded up 52 suspects, including the main accused, involved in the vandalising of a Hindu temple in Bhong village of Rahim Yar Khan district, Punjab IGP Inam Ghani said on Saturday.

“Raids are underway to arrest the others and a search operation is underway in the entire area,” he added.

“We have booked them on terrorism charges as well as other offences.”

The Punjab police chief further said he was personally monitoring the case.

A day earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the “immediate arrest” of the culprits involved in the attack on the temple as well as its restoration. It also lambasted the Punjab police for failing to protect the worship places of religious minorities.

A viral video clip showed people armed with clubs and rods storming the Shree Ganesh temple on Wednesday and smashing its doors, windows, lights, fans, and religious idols – outraged over a local court granting bail to an eight-year-old Hindu boy — who had allegedly urinated at a seminary in the village. The mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway.

The IGP said the restoration work of the temple had started under the supervision of the provincial government and would be completed in a few days.

Read 'PM has taken notice of Hindu temple's vandalism in Rahim Yar Khan'

“The expenditure on the repair of the temple would be recovered from the attackers [in line with the SC orders],” he added.

The police chief further said he was constantly updating the prime minister and chief minister on the progress of the case.

“The suspects arrested were produced in a local court and sent on judicial remand.”

The IGP vowed that those involved in tarnishing the country’s image in the world and inciting hatred would not be spared.

“Protection of religious minorities and their worship places is among the top priorities of the police.”

The IGP informed the apex court on Friday that people from the Kacha area, adjacent to Bhong, attacked the temple.

The boy was arrested on July 26 on the complaint of a cleric and produced in the court of the area magistrate, who sent him to judicial lockup.

He was released on post-arrest bail by a senior civil judge of Rahim Yar Khan on July 28.

On August 4, a post was shared by one Abdul Razzaq, son of Nooral Soomro, on social media that “after today if any Hindu is found eating in the pots of Muslims, he will be responsible, especially in Bhong Sharif”.

“When the local police began probing the facts, some elements started agitating. People from Kacha Razi – adjacent Kacha area of the Rajanpur district – also gathered on the instigation of one Qari Usman of Kacha Razi,” the IGP told the court.

“The police responded to the situation and the protesters were engaged to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, a request was made to call rangers and army to assist in controlling the ongoing law and order issue,” he added.

“However, at around 4:00 pm, about 100 to 150 agitating people blocked Motorway M-5 in the area of Bhong police station and started raising slogans against the Hindu community. More police contingent was sent to the spot with senior officers in command to address the situation.”

He further said “duty was also placed at the temple” as a precautionary measure, while some of the protesters came to the police for dialogue to settle the issue.

However, the IGP said, a group of charged protesters armed with weapons, construction guarders, sticks, and bamboos assaulted the police staff deployed at the temple.

“Furthermore, they brutally vandalised “Ganish Mandar” situated in Qasba Bhong. The perpetrators severely damaged the idols, walls, doors and electric fittings while desecrating the worship place.”

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