August 5th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed and Rehan Piracha
Hindu residents in the Bhong area of Rahim Yar Khan have said that senior local administration and police officials ignored their repeated calls for help and did not take any action to stop the attack on their temple on Wednesday, August 4.
A video of the attack could be seen on social media where a group of men were destroying the Ganesh Mandir with sticks and stones and breaking the Hindus’ holy artefacts. A day later, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the ransacking and according to a court statement, has also sought a report from the Punjab government, summoning the provincial chief secretary and police chief to appear before the court on Friday, August 6.
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Gulzar Ahmed took cognisance of the temple attack after MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, called on him at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, according to an official statement.
Dr Vankwani has also been summoned by the CJP. In a tweet, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication, Dr Shahbaz Gill said that the Prime Minister’s Office had also taken notice of the unfortunate incident. On the other hand, RYK police have registered an FIR of the incident but no arrests have been made as yet. However police officials say that the FIR has been ‘sealed’ and they could not say under what provisions the case has been registered.
However lawyers have expressed their surprise over this stance, as an FIR is a public document and cannot be sealed. Legal experts have said there is no provision in the law which allows for sealing the document. Currently, the situation is under control. says the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sadiqabad Asif Raza, adding that Rangers and police personnel have been deployed in the area for security. It should also be noted that under the suo moto case of 2014, where then CJP Tasaduq Husain Jillani directed that a special police force be constituted and stationed outside worship places of the religious minorities in order to protect them from attacks. However to date this has not been done.
Meanwhile, a member of the local Hindu community from Bhong, on condition of anonymity revealed that the local Hindu population had left the area out of fear on the day the attack took place. “Most of the Hindus left their homes in the city by that evening when the army personnel came to restore order in the city,” he told Voicepk.net. They had to move in with relatives living in other cities, he added. Hindu residents said they had alerted the local administration and police about a mob moving towards the temple in Bhong.
“At 1pm, we called the district police officer, district administration and even the military for help but nobody came to our rescue till 4pm. By that time, the mob had ransacked the temple and were leaving the area, chanting slogans. The Hindus had locked themselves in their houses in fear of their life,” he said. According to the Hindu resident, police came only as the mob was exiting the temple after ransacking it. “Hearing that police personnel had caught a few miscreants, the mob started building up again and attacked the police,” he said. “The police fled the area and those detained were freed by the mob,” he added. Another resident also says that when the situation in the area started deteriorating on August 4, the Hindu community called the police for help but the police did not take any action.
“The situation in Bhong has been tense since July 24 after an eight-year-old Hindu boy accidentally went to the library of the historic Bhong Mosque. “The boy urinated in his clothes and a mosque cleric rebuked him over entering the library,” the resident told Voicepk.net. Some people became enraged and filed a blasphemy charge against the child. The local court sent the child to jail, but the Additional Sessions Judge during a visit to the jail ordered his immediate release because of his age. “Tensions in the area escalated after the child’s release, and on the evening of August 4, miscreants attacked the temple,” the resident said.