Pakistan orders probe into Hindu temple vandalism
Islamabad, Aug 05: Pakistan's prime minister office has ordered an investigation into the vandalism of a Hindu temple, an official said Thursday.
The attack is the latest incident of religious-fueled violence against a minority group in the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the central Punjab province.
Police said dozens of men stormed the Ganesh Temple to protest a court decision to free an 8-year-old Hindu boy they accuse of blasphemy.
"Some 70 to 80 protesters then attacked and smashed the windows of the temple," Ahmed Nawaz, a police spokesman from the district, told AFP news agency.
A local administration official, Riasat Ali, said security forces were deployed to protect the local Hindu community in the area after the temple was "partially damaged."
What did officials say?
Shahbaz Gill, a special assistant to the prime minister on political communication, said the PM office directed authorities to investigate the case and "take strict action against the culprits."
"Pakistani constitution provides freedom & protection to minorities to perform their worship freely," Gill wrote on Twitter.
Pakistan's Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari said the attack violated the constitution and the basic human rights of Pakistani citizens. Mazari added that the ministry was in touch with the police for a report on the incident.
What is the row?
Ultraconservative Muslims have accused an 8-year-old Hindu boy of blasphemy for allegedly urinating in a local seminary, according to Dawn newspaper.
A court decided to release the boy as he was too young to be charged under the blasphemy law, local police chief Asad Sarfraz said.
Blasphemy charges carry death penalty under controversial Pakistani laws, which have been slammed in the past for being used disproportionately against religious minorities.
Pakistan and India have long accused each other of inflaming religious sentiments to target minorities in their respective countries.
The uptick in violence also comes as Pakistan marks the "black day" on the second anniversary of India imposing direct rule on parts of Kashmir.