Ramesh Kumar, Shoaib Suddle pakistan temple
Ramesh Kumar, right, a lawmaker and a leader in the Hindu community and Shoaib Suddle, head of a Commission for Minorities Rights, leave the Supreme Court after a hearing in the case of a Hindu temple that was vandalised, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities to immediately begin the restoration of the temple vandalised by a mob and to submit all reports related to the case within two weeks.

During the court hearing, the judge remarked that those who vandalised the temple should pay for its restoration. The century-old Samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu saint in the Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was damaged by a mob on December 30, police said.

Moreover, the three-member bench also directed the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to clear encroachments from temples across the country and take action against officials involved in land grabbing.

Dozens arrested, police officers suspended

Taking immediate action of the destruction, the Pakistan government vowed “strict action” against those involved. During the hearing, KP Inspector-General Dr Sanaullah Abbasi informed the court that 92 police officials who were on duty, including the local superintendent and deputy superintendent, have been suspended while at least 109 people involved in the destruction have been arrested. At the court hearing, officials of the Trust Board and police officials were questioned for failing to protect the sacred Hindu site.

Commission holds cleric responsible for attack on Hindu shrine

In its report, the commission, headed by former top police official Dr Shoaib Suddle, held a local cleric responsible for inciting people to violence. Police had earlier arrested the key instigator Maulvi Sharif along with dozens of his supporters.

Those responsible for damage should pay for reconstruction

At the hearing, when the KP Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz informed the bench that the provincial government would bear the cost of construction of the shrine, the top judge suggested that those involved in the destruction should pay for it. Referring to Maulvi Sharif, the judge said that “Unless they have to personally bear the cost of the rebuilding, they would continue to carry out such acts.”

Commission findings and recommendations

The report called for a comprehensive probe into the vandalism after gathering all testimonies and evidence and suggested an in-depth investigation by the provincial government and police chief. The reports underlined that the devastating act by miscreants had not only hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community but also brought a bad name to the country. It recommended exemplary punishment for the culprits to prevent such incidents in the future and to protect all places of worship.

Commission suggests opening of 4 Hindu temples

In his report, Shoaib Suddle also recommended opening four Hindu temples in Pakistan for international tourism. These temples are located in Karak (KP), Hingol National Park (Balochistan), Katas Raj complex in Chakwal (Punjab) and Multan (Punjab).