Friday Aug 06, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed Friday reprimanded the Punjab police chief for failing to take action to safeguard the Hindu temple from a mob in Rahim Yar Khan, directing him to arrest all culprits involved in the incident.
Chief Justice Gulzar had taken suo moto notice of the attack on the temple in village Bhong, after meeting with Ramesh Kumar, MNA and Patron-in-Chief Pakistan Hindu Council.
Over a dozen men, armed with sticks, had vandaliseda Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan, shouting slogans and desecrating idols in the place of worship. The video clip of the incident went viral on social media, drawing sharp criticism from rights activists in Pakistan.
Justice Gulzar had shown concern over the tragic incident and summoned the chief secretary Punjab and IGP Punjab to appear at the apex court and submit a report on the incident.
During the hearing today, the CJP expressed displeasure over the incident and reprimanded the officials, saying the attack has done serious damage to Pakistan's reputation around the globe.
He said the police acted as a silent spectator while the mob vandalised the temple. “What were the police and administration doing?” the CJP asked.
To this, IGP Inam Ghani said the assistant commissioner and ASP were present at the scene, and that the administration’s priority was to provide security to the 70 Hindu families near the temple.
“Terrorism clauses have been added in the FIR,” he said.
“If the deputy commissioner and the DPO cannot perform their duties, they should be fired,” CJP Gulzar stressed.
IG Inam Ghani informed the court that no arrests have been made so far in connection with the case, when Justice Qazi Amin asked as to what action had the police taken.
Additional Attorney General Sohail Mehmood said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken notice of the matter.
At this, CJP Gulzar said the court would focus on the legal perspective of the case.
“Three days have passed, but no one has been arrested,” said the chief justice, disappointed.
Justice Amin said police has failed to perform its duty.
“Had there been professional officers in the force, the issue would have been solved by now,” the top judge observed, adding that one should ponder over how the incident has impacted Pakistani Hindus.
“Think, how would Muslims have reacted if a mosque was attacked,” he remarked.
He also inquired about an 8-year-old Hindu boy who was arrested by the police. The Punjab police chief informed the bench that the boy was presented before a magistrate first.
“What do you expect from an 8-year-old? What does an 8-year-old know about religion? Do the police have any idea about the mind of a young kid?”
At this, Justice Gulzar ordered to remove the SHO who arrested him.
Issuing directives to take action against the culprits, the Supreme Court ordered the officials to submit a report on the next hearing, which has been scheduled on August 13.
The SC also ordered to establish Peace Committees to ensure religious harmony among followers of different faiths.
Pakistani lawmakers at the National Assembly denounced the Rahim Yar Khan attack, saying that such incidents were unfortunate.
"No arrests have been made yet neither did any government officials arrive at the place," said PML-N MNA Khael Das Kohistani. "We want the interior minister and the prime minister to tell us why no has been arrested yet."
PTI MNA Jai Prakash said the temple was desecrated due to the police's negligence, adding that the incident had taken place three days ago. "Prime Minister Imran Khan took immediate notice of the incident," he added.
PTI MNA Shunila Ruth said when the Bhong temple incident took place, she was speaking online to the DPO Punjab and IG Punjab.
"This is a conspiracy, the PTI government stands with the Hindu minority," she said, adding that the state does not support such actions.
Another MNA, Lal Chand Malhi, said these incidents were "backed by a plan", adding that the main objective of such incidents is to defame Pakistan.
"An FIR has been registered, I hope the culprits are arrested as well," he said.
PPP MNA Mahesh Kumar Malani urged legislators of other political parties, namely the PML-N, JUI-F and others to speak on the issue as well.
"Everyone in the assembly will speak about this incident," responded Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri.