Police in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Saturday said they had arrested 20 people and booked over 150 others for their alleged involvement in the attack on a Hindu temple in a remote town of the country.
The police action came after the country’s Supreme Court on Friday pulled up authorities for failing to stop the attack and ordered the arrest of the culprits, observing that the incident had tarnished the image of the country abroad.
Hundreds of people, carrying sticks, stones and bricks attacked the temple, burning parts of it and damaging the idols, in Bhong area of Rahimyar Khan district of the province in protest against the release by a court of an eight-year-old Hindu boy, who was arrested for allegedly urinating in a local seminary.
“We have so far arrested over 20 suspects allegedly involved in attacking the temple in Bhong,” District Police Officer (DPO) of Rahim Yar Khan Asad Sarfraz told reporters.
He said more arrests are expected in the coming days as police are identifying the suspects through video footage.
An FIR had been registered under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code against over 150 for their involvement in attacking the temple, he said.
“We will arrest every suspect involved in the crime. On the order of the apex court, restoration work of the temple has been started,” he said.
On Friday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed said that vandalism at the temple had brought shame to the country as police acted like silent spectators.
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.
Pakistan’s parliament on Friday condemned the temple attack by adopting a resolution.
The hearing in the case has been adjourned till August 13.
India on Thursday summoned the Pakistani charge d’affaires in New Delhi and lodged a firm protest, expressing grave concern at the incident and the continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority communities and their places of worship in 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 live 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 extremists.