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Nafisa Ameen | HENB | Karachi | July 13, 2021:: Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday said that criminal cases against 350 people accused of burning down a temple last year will be withdrawn, claiming that the minority Hindu community has pardoned them.
In the last of December of 2020, the radical Muslim people, allegedly the members of Jamiat e Ulema Islam, vandalized and set on fire the old temple shrine in Teri Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to the interior department sources of the province, members of the Hindu community decided to pardon the accused in a jirga constituted by the government to settle the matter. A jirga is a traditional assembly of elders to make decisions by consensus.
They said that the government had constituted the jirga which amicably resolved all the issues that created unrest between the local Muslim and Hindu communities in the area.
However, the Hindus maintained that despite assurances by the government, the construction of a resting area adjacent to the temple are being unnecessarily delayed, creating unrest among the minority Hindu community.
Haroon Sarab Diyal, a Religious Scholar Hinduism-Minority and Human Rights Activist of the province, said: “We are not against peace and interfaith harmony but the way adopted for withdrawal of cases is quite against the jirga culture of the soil”.
He complained that the local Hindu community has not been taken into confidence except Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Member of the national Assembly and Chairman of the Pakistan Hindu Council Dr Ramesh K Vankwani. Local people criticized the role of PTI’s Hindu leader Dr Vankwani so that it went against the interest of marginal Hindu people, so far.
“Ramesh Vankwani is now serving as an agent of PTI and is not seeing the problems of minority Hindus in distress. Now he has no say on the heavy persecution and forced conversion of Hindus of Pakistan. He is only seeing his position in PTI and National Assembly”, told an aggrieved local Hindu to HENB.
The sources said that the interior department of the province had also written an official letter to the Anti Terrorist Court, informing them of the decision of the jirga.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had named 350 accused in the FIR for their alleged involvement in setting on fire the Samadhi of Prem Hans and an adjacent temple in Teri Karak district last year.
As many as 109 people involved in the attack were arrested while 92 police officials, including the superintendent of police and deputy superintendent of police who were on duty at the time, were suspended.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken a suo moto notice of the case and directed the provincial government to reconstruct the Samadhi and the temple.
The local Hindu community members in Teri Karak district said that a house adjacent to the temple was purchased by the Hindus for the worshippers visiting the temple from far flung areas to take rest.
The move gave a wrong message to the local community who feared that the Hindus wanted to live there. Therefore, a local mob first burnt the under-construction house and then attacked the adjacent temple and burnt the Samadhi.
The Samadhi of Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj is considered sacred by the Hindu community. It was built where he died in 1919 in Teri village of Karak.
Hindus are the most vulnerable and extincting minority community in Pakistan. While they for 14-16% of the population in the area at the time of partition in 1947, the Hindu population of Pakistan has been come down to less than 2% due to Islamic repression and ethnic cleansing.
According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country. The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by the extremists.
__Inputs from PTI & Republic TV.