Muslim mob badly damages Hindu temple in central Pakistan

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — A Muslim mob stormed a Hindu temple in a remote town in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province on Wednesday, damaging statues and burning down the temple’s main door, police said.

The attack followed an alleged desecration of a madrassa, or religious school, by a Hindu boy earlier this week, the police added.

In general, Muslims and Hindus live peacefully in the predominantly Muslim Pakistan, but there have been attacks on Hindu temples in recent years. Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when India was divided by Britain’s government.

In Wednesday’s assault, the mob briefly blocked a key road nearby after attacking the temple in the city of Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan district, police official Asif Raza said. He said the vandals were incited by a court ruling that granted bail to the 8-year-old Hindu boy in the alleged madrassa desecration.

The boy was earlier arrested on charges of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the madrassa’s library that housed religious books.

The mob alleges the boy committed blasphemy, an act punishable by the death sentence in Pakistan. Mere accusations of blasphemy have incited mobs to violence and deadly attacks in the past.

Raza said Pakistani troops were called in to restrain the attackers and bring the mob under control but the temple had already been damaged by the time the soldiers showed up.

Ramesh Kumar, a Hindu community leader, later said in a video posting on Twitter that the situation has been brought under control. He said the initially slow response from the police had made the situation and the damages to the temple worse.

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