Ganges set fire to a Hindu temple in northwestern Pakistan

Hindus are the largest non-Muslim religious group in Pakistan, gaining independence from the British government in 1947, when the subcontinent was divided into Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India.

Videos made by locals at the scene and shared with Reuters showed a crowd of blocks breaking down the walls of the temple structure using stones and sledges, while dark smoke from a large fire entered the sky .

Local Muslim clerics have organized what they say were a peaceful protest against the alleged expansion of the temple in a town in the Karak district, in the northwest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Rahmatullah Wazir said. a policeman in the city, told Reuters.

He added that clergymen who led the protest began ‘challenging speeches’, after which the crowd attacked the temple.

“It was a mob and then no one was there to stop them from damaging the temple,” Wazir said, adding that most of the structure was damaged.

Police district chief Irfanullah Khan told Reuters nine people had been arrested for taking part in the attack.

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

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered that it be returned to the Hindu community and that the sanctuary be rebuilt, provided that it would not be expanded in the future.

The provincial government spokesman did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

“This is a barbaric way of dealing with minorities. We were shocked and hurt … and (the incident) sent a wave of insecurity into the Hindu community,” said Haroon Sarbdyal, a local Hindu leader community, said in an interview. .

According to Sarbdyal, while local Hindus moved out of town, devotees still traveled there every Thursday to visit the shrine.

Pakistan’s human rights minister Shireen Mazari has condemned the incident on Twitter.

Earlier this year, the watchdog Amnesty International called on the Pakistani authorities to “protect the right to freedom of religion and belief for the beleagured Hindu community in the country, including the erection of temples to exercise that right.” .