Information Minister of the northwest Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwahwa will rebuild a Hindu temple that was destroyed by a Muslim mob earlier this week using provincial government funds.
Police have arrested dozens of people, including the local Muslim leader, for their involvement in Wednesday’s attack on the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi temple in the town of Karak, some 100km (62 miles) southeast of the provincial capital, Peshawar.
“We regret the damage caused by the attack,” Kamran Bangash, the provincial information minister belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.
“The chief minister has ordered the reconstruction of the temple and adjoining house,” he told AFP news agency.
About 1,500 people descended on the temple in the remote village after protesting against renovations being made to an adjoining building owned by a Hindu group. They used sledgehammers to knock down walls before setting the building ablaze.
Construction will start as soon as possible with the support of the Hindu community, Bangash said, adding security would be provided at the site.
District police chief Irfanullah Khan told AFP about 45 people had been arrested in connection with the incident – including a local Muslim leader, mullah Sharif, who is accused of inciting the mob.
Khan added police are also looking for mullah Mirza Aqeem, the district leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), one of Pakistan’s largest Islamic parties
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered authorities to submit a report on the temple’s destruction, which drew condemnation from human rights activists and the minority Hindu community.
In Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and where most of the country’s Hindus live, more than 200 people protested outside the Supreme Court, calling for justice.
“You must respect other people’s religion. We are Pakistanis, and for God’s sake, nobody needs to give us a certificate of loyalty”, said Mangla Sharma, a Hindu member of Sindh’s provincial assembly.