Muslim Mob Attacks Hindu Temple; Pakistan Deploys Military In Response

On Aug. 4, a Muslim mob swarmed a Hindu temple in Bhong City in the Rahim Yar Khan district in the Punjab region in Pakistan. According to Asif Raza, an officer of the police in Bhong city, the mob was riled up by the court's decision to bail an 8-year old Hindu child. The boy, who remains unnamed, deliberately urinated on a carpet in a Muslim library. 

The 8-year old boy was arrested for blasphemy charges but was released on bail. This decision sparked outrage on the Muslim side. The Muslims claim that the boy committed blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. He was caught defiling the area of a madrasa (an Islamic religious school) where holy books are stored. In response to the boy's bail-out, a Muslim mob attacked a Hindu temple, destroying statues and taking down the temple's main door. The mob also attempted to barricade the road leading to the temple.

The situation was de-escalated when Pakistani soldiers were called in to help control the crowd. By the time the police and military combined presence stopped the attack, the temple was already significantly damaged. A Hindu community leader, Ramesh Kumar, commented that the damage to the temple would have been lesser if the police were able to control the situation sooner.

The neighboring community felt the Muslim mob's attack on the temple. According to Lal Malhi, a Hindu and a member of Pakistan's parliament, many Hindus feared for their lives and had vacated the town.

Historically, Muslims and Hindus were able to live together peacefully in the Indian subcontinent. There were recorded conflicts, but they were not as significant as the recent atmosphere, starting when the British divided the two countries into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India.

The attacks on Hindu temples continue to increase over time. In December 2020, a 100-year old Hindu temple was attacked and damaged by a Muslim mob in the town of Karak. 

What's magnifying the scale of the religiously inspired violence is the involvement of the respective governments and politicians. As a Hindu-majority state, India summoned Pakistan's diplomat to lodge a protest against the attack on the Hindu temple. India also expressed concerns over the safety of Hindus living in a Muslim-majority Pakistan. Imran Khan, Pakistan's prime minister, has condemned the attack on Twitter and has promised the government's assistance in repairing the temple.

Khurram Shahzad, a District Administrator, has announced that Hindus will resume worship service in the temple.

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