Justice was well-dispensed as the Rahim Yar Khan temple vandalisers were brought to book. An Anti-Terrorism Court on Thursday handed down five-year jail term with fine to each of the 22 accused in the Bhong temple attack case. The accused, on August 4, 2021, had attacked Ghanesh Mandir in Rahim Yar Khan district and ransacked its premises. It was a judicious and well-prosecuted affair, wherein the judicial arm and its affiliates, including the police and legal bureaucracy, kept their heads high as they crisscrossed through a sensitive investigation to clear the wheat from chaff. That 22 of them were zoomed in from more than 60 arrested establishes the merit of probe and sensible judgment. The rest were set free getting the benefit of the doubt. This is a welcome development and will go a long way in establishing the writ of the state and the rule of law, and nip in the bud elements who believe in politics of hate and marginalisation with minorities.
The Bhong decision has come close on the heels of Priyantha Kumara’s landmark judgment against his unfortunate lynching in Sialkot. Such recourse to law is desired, and is the only way out to deter people who obsessively indulge in highhandedness against minorities and the downtrodden, and opt for refuge in the guise of blasphemy laws. It is, however, good to see that the judiciary and the respective administrations are in a proactive mode these days, and it reflects the determination of political governments to tackle this tendency of extremism head-on.
Pakistan is a pluralistic society and one that believes in emancipation and a rational approach. Of course, there are wayward elements too who opt for jingoism while translating their narrative of otherness. This phenomenon should be dealt with strictly, and the best course is to establish the rule of law and take to task people who go on to vandalise public property and penalise the weaker sections of society. Prompt prosecution and decisions in real time will buoy the confidence of the masses in the state system and scare off unscrupulous elements from exhibiting radicalism.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2022.
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