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Century-old Hindu temple damaged, set on fire by mob in Pakistan

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A century-old Hindu temple in northwestern Pakistan was attacked and set on fire by a mob on Thursday. The incident led to the Hindu community in the Muslim-majority country condemning the issue.

Hindus are the largest non-Muslim majority in Pakistan, which gained independence from British rule in 1947, when the subcontinent was partitioned into Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India.

Videos made by locals at the scene and shared with a news agency showed a crowd breaking apart blocks of the temple structure’s walls using stones and sledgehammers, as dark smoke from a large fire billowed into the sky.

Peaceful protest turned violent

Local Muslim clerics had organised what they told police would be a peaceful protest against the alleged expansion of the temple, located in a town in Karak district, in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Rahmatullah Wazir, a police officer in the town, told the news agency.

He added that clerics leading the protest started “provocative speeches”, following which the crowd attacked the temple. “It was a mob and then nobody was there to stop them from damaging the temple,” Wazir said, adding that most of the structure had been damaged.

Nine people arrested

District police chief Irfanullah Khan told the news agency that nine people had been arrested on suspicion of taking part in the attack.

The temple was first built in the early 1900s as a shrine, but the local Hindu community left in 1947 and by 1997 the site had been taken over by local Muslims.

In 2015, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered it be handed back to the Hindu community and the shrine rebuilt, on condition that it would not be expanded in the future.

 

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