PESHAWAR/KOHAT/KARAK: On Friday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said his government would restore a Hindu shrine that was destroyed and torched last Wednesday by a mob in the Teri region of Karak district.
He also provided the requisite guidelines for that reason to the appropriate authorities, said the official statement issued here.
A crowd made up of young and old people and children heavily destroyed the samadhi of Hindu saint Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj and set it on fire, attracting criticism from rights activists and religious minorities.
The statement also claimed that Dr. Shoaib Suddle, of the one-man minority rights commission, called on the chief minister to discuss shrine desecration issues.
Also present at the meeting were PTI Minority MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar and Provincial Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz.
The chief minister found the attack on the Hindu shrine deeply reprehensible and said his government was taking action to put the perpetrators to justice.
He said they had detained a number of people for vandalising the shrine.
CM says steps being taken to bring culprits to justice
Mr. Mahmood said that his government would ensure that all minority holy sites in the province are secured and that no one would be permitted to take the law into their own hands.
The statement stated that Dr Shoaib and MNA Ramesh expressed satisfaction with the government’s measures in that regard.
Also on the day, during a presser in Kohat, special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs Wazirzada and assistant to the chief minister on auqaf and religious affairs Zahoor Shakir announced that PC-I had been prepared to reconstruct and renovate the Karak shrine and that the provincial government would use its own funds to rebuild the site.
CM aide Wazirzada, accompanied by MPA Rohit Kumar, DIG of Kohat Region police Tayyab Hafeez Cheema, former JUI-F MNA Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz and religious minority members, said the shrine attack was not organised and that a mob was mobilised for the purpose in the Teri district.
He said that after the shrine attack, the government moved quickly to ensure the detention of ‘three defendants and 43 suspects’ within 24 hours of the incident.
Mr. Wazirzada said India should learn from Pakistan, which is putting behind bars those who hurt the feelings of religious minorities.
Mosques are burning in India and representatives of the Sikh and Muslim communities are killed, but he said the government does not feel any guilt.
The chief minister’s aide said that, along with the local elders, he and other government officials had visited Karak, conducted talks with political and religious leaders, and amicably settled the matter.
He said a humanitarian organisation based in Sindh had also visited the region and expressed ‘full faith’ in the steps of the government.
Mr. Wazirzada said similar assaults took place in 1997 and 2013, but no action was taken by the culprits.
He said the government of PTI believed in the security of minorities and their places of worship and took all necessary steps for this reason.
After the forensic analysis of the shrine attack footage, DIG Hafeez Cheema said further arrests will be made.
He said there was no previous intelligence briefing from the district administration about the shrine attack.
Meanwhile, PPP Minority Provincial President Wing Naseeb Chand called for the resignation of the special assistant to the Chief Minister on religious affairs over the Karak incident.
He said the reputation of the nation was seriously damaged by the Hindu attack on the shrine.
Former JUI-F MNA Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz requested the creation of a judicial commission to investigate the incident.
He said it was important to provide a high-level investigation into the attack to show that the local Khattak group was not involved in it and that they were peace-loving individuals.
Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz also visited the shrine during the day.
He also visited the elders of the local peace council, heading a high-level delegation.
Provincial police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, minority MNA Ramaish Kumar, MPA Rohait Kumar and senior officials were among the delegates.
Reporters were informed by the chief secretary that all Pakistanis had condemned the demolition of the Hindu shrine.
The people of the shrine town, he said, were calm.
Dr Kazim said the incident was triggered by the inflammatory speeches of just a few people.
He said more than 40 people, including the key accused, had been detained by the police and more arrests would be made.