India on Thursday summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires and lodged a ‘firm protest’ expressing Delhi’s ‘grave concerns’ over a mob attack on a Hindu temple in Punjab province. New Delhi also asked Islamabad to ensure the “safety, security and well-being of its minority communities”.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people vandalised a temple at Bhong village in Rahim Yar Khan district and blocked a highway after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who had been accused of urinating in an Islamic seminary, was granted bail by a local court.
People in both countries saw images and video footage of the desecration of the temple on social media platforms. Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed took cognisance of the incident on Thursday after parliamentarian Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, met him to discuss the issue.
In New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We have seen disturbing reports on social media of a violent mob attack on a Ganesha temple in Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab province of Pakistan. The mob attacked the temple, desecrated the holy idols and set fire to the premises. In addition to attacking the temple, the mob has also attacked surrounding houses belonging to the Hindu community.”
“Incidents of violence, discrimination and persecution against the minority communities including attacks on places of worship have continued unabated in Pakistan. Within the last year itself, various temples and Gurudwaras have been attacked including the Mata Rani Bhatiyani Mandir in Sindh in January 2020, Gurudwara Sri Janam Sthan in January 2020, a Hindu temple in Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in December 2020. These incidents are occurring at an alarming rate while the state and security institutions in Pakistan have completely failed in preventing these attacks on the minority communities and their places of worship,” he said.
He said that the Pakistani C’dA was summoned and a firm protest was lodged expressing “our grave concerns at this reprehensible incident and the continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority community and their places of religious worship” and “calling upon Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities”.