Lahore: The trial began on Friday in an anti-terrorism court against 85 suspects allegedly involved in an attack on a Hindu temple in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
On August 4, hundreds of people attacked Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan district, about 590 km from Lahore, with sticks, stones and bricks, burning parts of it and damaging statues in protest of the release by a court. Eight-year-old Hindu boy, who was arrested for urinating in a local madrassa.
The attackers had damaged idols, walls, doors and electrical fittings, desecrating the temple. A Punjab government official told PTI, “The trial of 85 suspects arrested in the temple attack case began today after the police submitted the report in the Anti-Terrorism Court.”
The suspects have been detained at the New Central Jail in Bahawalpur city, 450 km from Lahore, on judicial remand. The government has also recovered over PKR 10 lakh compensation amount from the suspects, the official said.
“Since the Ganesh temple was renovated by the government soon after the attack, the Supreme Court had ordered that the attackers would pay the restoration amount out of their own pocket,” he said, adding that the temple has been restored from inside. . But still the construction of boundary wall is going on.
Police had registered an FIR against 150 suspects for attacking the temple under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had expressed regret that the temple vandalism had put the country to shame as the police acted like mute spectators. “Imagine how much mental agony the members of the Hindu community were caused by the desecration incident,” he said.
The temple attack was strongly condemned by the leaders of the minority community in India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s parliament also passed a resolution condemning the attack. According to the police investigation report, on July 25, a Bhong resident informed the police that the previous day he had seen a boy urinating in the library of the madrasa.
The young man ran away when he tried to catch him. A complaint was registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code at Bhong police station. The boy, in the age group of eight to 10 years, was arrested on July 26 and produced before the court, which sent him to judicial custody, the report said.
However, he was released on bail on July 28 after his arrest. Hindus are the largest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, there are 7.5 million Hindus living in Pakistan. However, community wise, there are over 90 lakh Hindus living in the country.
Most of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, tradition and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by extremists.