Rioters attack Hindu temples, houses in Pakistan's Sindh over alleged blasphemy
16 September 2019
Rioters let lose violence in Ghotki, in Pakistan’s Sindh province alleging blasphemous remark by a school principal, who is a Hindu.
Riots broke out on Sunday after a Hindu school principal allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad, Dawn reported. Protestors reportedly damaged properties worth millions of rupees in Ghotki district and attacked a temple and several shops belonging to the Hindu community.
The police booked and detained the principal after a student of the school told his father about her controversial comments, GeoTV reported. Additional Inspector General of Police Jamil Ahmed said the principal “is now in the safe custody of police”. He added that the police were registering “cases against hooligans” and arresting the miscreants.
The protestors also blocked the National Highway calling for the arrest of the principal for the alleged blasphemous remarks. Some reports alleged that the teacher was also attacked during the protests, but there was no confirmation.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has taken cognisance of the matter, raising concerns over the “outbreak of mob violence”. The Commission said there were “alarming reports of accusations of blasphemy in Ghotki and the outbreak of mob violence”.
“Situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours by the grace of God,” another police officer told the television channel. “Fair investigation would be ensured, facts confirmed and justice would finally prevail.”
Blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment under Pakistan’s penal code. Dozens have been killed in the country following blasphemy claims by the mob. Asia Bibi, a mother of four, in 2010 became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. However, the country’s Supreme Court acquitted her on 31 October last year.
The World Sindhi Congress expressed concerns over reports of violence, urging other countries to pressure Pakistan “to ensure safety” of religious majorities in the neighbouring country. A tweet by the human rights body claimed that temples, shops and homes had been ransacked by mobs.
“Alarming: Hindu community in #Ghotki Sindh under attack after student accused a #Hindu school principal of #blasphemy. Principal's school, Hindu temples, shops & homes ransacked by mobs. The world must pressurize #Pakistan to ensure safety of religion #minorities in the country,” read the tweet by the World Sindhi Congress.
Pakistani media reports quoted senior police officials of the region as saying that the situation had been brought under control. The officials also said that they would collect all facts and evidence to ensure that the culprits did not go unpunished. The police registered case against 50 rioters in connection with the violence.
Pakistan-based Dawn News said in a report that violence also occurred in towns like Mirpur Mathelo and Adilpur, apart from Ghotki.
The reports of violence against members of Hindu community come from Pakistan even as country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has often targeted New Delhi alleging ill-treatment of minorities in India.