Pakistan police shrine temple
Policemen stand guard along a road near the damaged Hindu temple a day after an attack in a remote village in Karak district, some 160 kms southeast of Peshawar on December 31, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s top court ordered to recover Rs33 million from those accused of being involved in vandalising the Hindu temple in the Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Supreme Court issued directives to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to obtain the money within a month. The judge also allowed the Hindu community to rebuild their temple, adding that the Hindu community could expand the place of worship if the locals sell them the land.

The Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, issued the directive to the provincial government while hearing the case of the vandalism of the Hindu religious site by a mob in December 2020. The court was informed that notices for the recovery of the cost were served to all the arrested suspects.

Advocate General for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shumail Butt told the bench that over Rs33m was spent on the rehabilitation and restoration of the 100-year-old temple. He explained that the trial of the accused persons was still proceeding and some of the detainees might be proven innocent. The KP government, in its three-page report, stated that the culprits had been promptly arrested but were granted bail by courts.

A peace agreement was reached between the two communities under the supervision of the KP chief minister on March 11, 2021. “The agreement was aimed at ensuring permanent peace through establishing cordial relations between the two communities. The parties reiterated their resolve for respecting constitutional rights of each other” the KP government said.

The official report highlighted that a week before the incident, an agreement was reached that the Hindu community could use the purchased piece of land to build a residence, car park and courtyard. However, the extension in the prayer area of the shrine turned into a controversy that led to conflict between the two parties, resulting in the mob attack on the temple.

The Pakistan Hindu Council urged the apex court to ensure that the temple was provided with all the facilities for the comfortable stay of the pilgrims.