31 arrested in Pakistan after mob attacks, sets fire to Hindu temple

Muri Assunção, New York Daily News

Pakistani police arrested at least 31 people in connection with an attack on a Hindu temple by a mob in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday.

Indian outlets reported that an angry crowd vandalized, demolished and set fire to the temple in Karak, a small town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to The Times of India, the incident was instigated by a Muslim cleric who’s the head of a militant group, and who encouraged supporters to destroy the temple.

On Thursday, local police said that 31 people had been detained overnight.

More raids are currently underway to arrest cleric Maulana Shareef, as well as other individuals who might have been involved in the incident.

The Associated Press reported that some 100 members of the Hindu community rallied in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, in protest.

They demanded the rebuilding of the temple.

Among the protesters was Ramesh Kumar, a member of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

“We are very sad, our hearts are broken,” said Kumar, who received a call from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The prime minister expressed his sympathy and assured Kumar that the government would take all necessary steps to protect the country’s religious minorities and their places of worship.

Wednesday’s attack was not the first reported at the Karak temple, according to Kumar, who said that same temple was also targeted in 1997.

According to India Today, Pakistan’s federal Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi strongly condemned the vandalism by “some anti-social elements.”

The incident come just weeks after the government allowed Hindu residents to build a new temple in Islamabad on the recommendation of a council of clerics, according to the AP.