ISLAMABAD – Islamabad capital territory police Sunday registered a case against eight unidentified people for setting ablaze a yoga centre. The locals believe the centre might have been attacked as it was allegedly promoting Hinduism in the capital.
Situated in Peace Street of Bani Gala, an elite locality of the capital, The Art of Living Centre is located at the bank of Rawal Lake. It was set on fire by unknown armed people Saturday night. Shahnaz Minallah, owner of the centre, reported the incident to Bani Gala Police on the following day (Sunday).
The police registered a case under section 436/452/148/149/427 PPC and started investigations. “The police have registered the FIR against (unknown) accused. We will leave no stone unturned to trace and arrest them,” investigation officer concerned told TheNation.
As many as eight ‘Dari speaking’ heavily built accused, believably hailing from Afghanistan or Pakistan’s tribal areas, reportedly forced their entry into the centre by breaking through blue iron made gate. According to Hassan Ali, the chief security guard of the centre, the accused armed with automatic weapons entered the building and got hold of him and his colleague present in the building. Then, they started setting ablaze the building with help of petrol.
“They asked for nothing. They just broke the glasses, set the rooms and literature on fire and fled the scene after putting the place on fire,” Hassan Ali told police. He narrated the same story to this correspondent at the site of incident as well.
Before leaving the centre, the attackers wrote ‘ISLAM’ in black ink at a broken glass, which was witnessed by this correspondent during visit to the ravaged place.
While the Islamabad Capital Territory police are still clueless about who set the centre on fire, Meena Gabeena – who once worked with the centre – believes the accused might have been incited by some religious fanatic to attack the centre.
She said it was clearly not a case of burglary or theft. She also drew attention to a TV program that went on air recently which questioned the work of the yoga centre.
Her point was endorsed by a couple of locals who spoke with The Nation requesting anonymity.
“A couple of weeks before Saturday’s fire incident, we came across a group of people who told us The Art of Living Centre was promoting Hinduism in Islamabad,” 35 years old Ahmed Shahzad, who lives near the charred centre, told The Nation.
According to Shahzad, many other residents of locality were also briefed by the unknown people that the centre was “making mockery of Islam and is promoting Hinduism in Islamabad; hence, it must be closed down”.
The yoga centre was formally inaugurated by Indian spiritual personality Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 2012. It became popular among Islamabad’s elite, especially the youngsters.
Since then, the centre has been conducting yoga classes and running courses on regular basis until it was set on fire at the weekend. Speaking on the marbled floor of the centre two years back in 2012, Ravi Shanker had requested Taliban to end violence across Pakistan.