Two days after a Ganesh temple was attacked and desecrated by radical Islamists in Rahim Yar Khan in the Punjab province of Pakistan, an alliance of 22 religious and political parties on Friday (August 6) refused to condemn the act of violence and vandalism, reported Dawn.
The alliance of parties also called the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC), claimed that they were unaware of the details of the Hindu temple attack. During a press conference in Islamabad, Sahibzada Abul Khair Zubair deviated the topic to another incident in Hyderabad. He alleged, “There is a Muslim family living in front of a temple in Hyderabad. The area also housed some Hindu families and they filed a complaint to the authorities that sacrificing (a) cow in front of the temple should not be allowed. The majority too has rights.”
Zubair further sermonised that the rights of the minority communities are ‘protected’ under Islamic laws (Sharia), but added that the ‘rights’ of the majority community (Muslims) must not be denied as well. It must be mentioned that Zubair is a member of the radical Islamist outfit Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) and the newly elected President of the Supreme Council of MYC. When Pakistani journalists further prodded the leaders of Milli Yakjehti Council, secretary general Liaquat Baloch alleged, “The minority community in the country has complete freedom.”
150 Hindu families flee village out of fear of religious persecution
Baloch, a member of Jamaat-i-Islami, refused to condemn the temple attack under the pretext of not being aware of the facts. When journalists continued to quiz the MYC leaders about the incident, ex-deputy secretary-general Dr Saqib Akbar asked them to move on to another topic and refrain from discussing the temple issue.
This is despite the fact that the Milli Yakjehti Council had vowed to discourage provocative actions, speeches, and statements ahead of the month of Muharram. According to Hindu rights activist Rahat Austin, about 150 Hindu families were forced to flee their homes in Bhong city in Rahim Yar Khan. He lamented, “Punjab was (once) a Hindu majority province but now Rahimyar Khan is (the) the only city where Hindu exists in sizeable numbers.”
Around 150 Hindu families are forced to flee after angry mob vandalized a temple & attacked their homes in Bhong,Rahimyar Khan, Punjab-Pakistan. Punjab was a Hindu majority province but now Rahimyar Khan is only city where Hindu exists in a sizeable numbers.@USCIRF @Europarl_EN pic.twitter.com/aAH5PgIFnn— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) August 7, 2021
Temple attacked by radical Islamists in Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab
On Wednesday (August 4), a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Gandesha was attacked by a frenzied mob of Pakistani Muslim men in Bhong city of Rahim Yar Khan district in the province of Punjab. Taking cognisance of the matter, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarian Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani took to Twitter to post videos of the temple attack and urged the law enforcement agencies to stop the “burning and vandalizing” of the temple.
“The attackers were carrying sticks, stones, and bricks. They smashed the deities while raising religious slogans,” Vankwani said. Condemning the attack on the temple in a series of tweets, Vankwani demanded arrests of the culprits. He also urged the Chief Justice to take immediate action. Police officials confirmed that the temple was badly damaged. As per reports, when the police failed to control the mob, the Pakistan Rangers had to be called in to control the situation. However, no arrests were made in the case.
Some members of the mob tried to justify the attack, saying that an eight-year-old Hindu boy had urinated near the library of a Muslim seminary in the area in the past week. They claimed that the brutal attack by adult males on the temple of the community was in retaliation to the 8-year-old boy’s alleged urination. The 8-year-old boy was even arrested and booked last week under Pakistan’s brutal blasphemy laws but was subsequently released on bail for being a minor.