A mob of hundreds of people reportedly attacked and vandalized a Hindu temple in Bhong town, Rahim Yar Khan District in Punjab, Pakistan, on Aug. 4.
The mob blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5) after an eight-year-old Hindu boy, who cannot be named, allegedly relieved himself in a local Islamic seminary and was charged with blasphemy, and was granted bail by a local court Aug. 4.
According to CSW’s sources, police in Bhong town registered a blasphemy case against the boy under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code on July 24 following a complaint from cleric Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim of Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
Some Hindu elders reportedly apologized to the seminary administration, stating the accused was a minor and had a learning disability. However, after the boy was granted bail by a lower court, a protest against the court’s decision resulted in a mob shutting down shops in the town. Online video footage shows people wielding clubs and rods, storming the Hindu temple and smashing its statues, glass doors, windows and lights, also damaging the ceiling fans.
In response, the Pakistan Supreme Court’s Commission on Minority Rights, headed by Dr. Shoaib Suddle, called for a report from the Deputy Commissioner Rahim Yar Khan. The Commission directed the Provincial Government of Punjab to ensure fool proof measures are taken to secure the places of worship of religious minorities, as directed by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Case Judgement (No. 1 of 2014). The Commission also directed the authorities to assess the damage and take steps to compensate for the losses on a priority basis.
The Hindu community in Pakistan continues to face widespread discrimination and economic marginalization, false blasphemy accusations, abductions, forced marriages, forced conversions and increasing incidents of vandalism of their temples.
CSW’s CEO Scot Bower said,“We are deeply concerned by the destruction of the Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan, despite efforts by the Hindu community to apologize for the inadvertent actions of a very young boy with a learning disability. The charges against this child, and the illegal punishment meted out on his community, are a compelling demonstration of the ongoing intolerance and violence faced by the Hindu community. We urge the government in Pakistan to take steps to tackle the intolerance, violence and discrimination faced by the Hindu community, and to advance the measures outlined in the Supreme Court judgment to protect places of worship for religious minority communities.”