KARAK: Police arrested 31 people here on Thursday, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) district officials, for vandalising and demolishing the shrine of a Hindu saint in the district of Teri.
Police officials informed Dawn that Rehmat Salam Khattak, the top JUI-F leader, was also among the people detained. He was detained at his home in the Takht-i-Nusrati tehsil district of Chokara. Before joining JUI-F, he served as the regional general secretary of the PML-N.
Officials said they had searched the houses of people who had been involved in the shrine attack. Several of them, however, who were interested in destroying the shrine, went underground to escape detention, they said.
For defiling place of worship, injuring religious feelings, theft, damage, vandalism, mischief and abuse, Teri police registered a FIR against the persons involved in the attack. Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act was also included in the FIR.
Terrorism section included in FIR; political parties ask govt to bring attackers to justice
The FIR claimed that during a rally, Maulana Mohammad Sharif told the crowd about the shrine and said they would not allow either a Hindu shrine on Teri soil or Hindus to visit it.
It said that during his speech, he asked the 1,000-1,500 participants to kill the shrine.
The FIR cited the cleric as saying to the audience, “Whoever dies while demolishing the shrine will be a martyr.”
It said that the shrine was targeted and set on fire by about 400 people headed by Maulana Sharif.
It said the perpetrators opened fire on the police as well. It continued that objects from the temple were also carried away by the crowd.
The Hindu shrine was visited by Provincial Police Chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi as well. He said inquiries were ongoing and the case was forwarded to FIR. He said 31 suspects were arrested for assaulting the shrine when the FIR nominated 350 people and searches were carried out for their detention.
Ishaq Khattak, a local elder, told Dawn that the situation in Teri remained peaceful and mostly local residents stayed away from the site of the incident. He said Teri Bazaar remained closed as well.
Meanwhile, the Tehreek-i-Insaf District Chapter of Pakistan condemned the incident and said that the Chief Minister and the IGP should take practical measures to apprehend the people involved in the Hindu shrine attack.
PTI District General Secretary Kamran and Senior Vice President Ashiq Muneer said at a press conference that it was an act of a few people and should not be credited to the entire Khattak tribe.
They said strict measures should be taken against the persons involved in the attack.
They said that during the attack, the police committed criminal negligence and the district administration refused to take timely action to avert the incident.
They recommended that the Chief Minister suspend Tehsil Banda Daud Shah’s Deputy Commissioner, District Police Officer and DSP, and other responsible administrative officers for their inability to deter the attack.
Provincial President Aimal Wali Khan of the Awami National Party condemned the incident in Peshawar and described it as an effort to pave the way for a revival of violence in the Pakhtun region.
In a tweet, he said that those people who led the crowd to strike the shrine should be brought to justice by the provincial government. He said it was the government’s prime duty to provide all people with protection, including non-Muslims, and their places of worship.
The ANP leader also condemned the setting up firehouses in Waziristan and said that conflict in the Pakhtun belt will rise in such incidents. He said Pakhtuns were peace-loving individuals who often played a role in fostering unity between faiths.