Pakistan’s Supreme Court has directed regional authorities in northwestern Pakistan to rebuild a century-old Hindu shrine that was destroyed in a mob attack in late December.
The Court on February 8 instructed the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to start rebuilding the shrine with immediate effect.
Ramesh Kumar, who heads the Hindu Council Pakistan, welcomed the order, telling RFE/RL that it was a moment of solace for minorities in the country that will promote peace and harmony.
Wazir Zada, adviser to the provincial chief minister on minorities, said approximately 3.5 million rupees ($22,000) had been allocated for the reconstruction work.
"The provincial government is in touch with the Hindu community in the area, and we are trying to start the construction work as soon as possible," Zada said.
On December 30, hundreds of people incited by local Muslim religious leaders swarmed and then set fire to the Hindu shrine in Teri village, prompting condemnation from the country's Hindu community, human rights activists, and provincial and federal government officials.
In an earlier ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme Court directed the authorities to arrest the attackers and recover the money from them to pay for the damages.
The authorities have said more than 30 people had been arrested over their alleged involvement in the assault, while more than 70 police officials were sacked or suspended for failing to protect the shrine.
Representatives of the Hindu Council Pakistan claim that around 8 million Hindus currently live in the Muslim-majority country. Other estimates put the number at 3.5 million.
The majority of the country’s Hindus are based in the southern province of Sindh, near the border with India.
The community has become the target of rising religious violence in recent years.