Karachi: Even as the police in Pakistan’s Sindh province cracked down on Islamist radicals who vandalised a Hindu temple and homes of the minority community over an alleged case of blasphemy, a student whose complaint triggered the massive violence has said the blasphemy complaint was cooked up to target the Hindu school principal.
Meanwhile, amid the violence, many Muslims spent the night in the vandalised Sacho Satram Das temple premises in a show of support to the Hindus.
The student, Mohammed Ihtisham, on whose complaint his father filed a First Information Report police complaint against the principal of Sindh Public School, has said in a social media post that he was very angry with the principal Notan Lal as he was scolded for not memorising his lesson. He said that he had no idea that the issue would blow up to such a proportion. He asked “Sir Notan” for forgiveness, in the social media post.
On Sunday, political and religious leaders sat down at the vandalised Sacho Satram Das temple on Sunday and reassured the Hindu community of their full support.
Muslims from the neighbourhood of the temple and school spent the whole of Saturday and Sunday night in the temple premises, which which was badly vandalised, with the idols thrown down, and glass panels smashed.
Sindh resident Kapil Dev, a human rights activist, tweeted: “Aren’t we Pakistani? We #Pakistani #Hindus are only 2% of the total population. I just want to know what danger do we pose to 98% population. Just visit my timeline and see how we observed Muharram a few days ago, but yet we suffer incidents like #Ghotki.
“Mark my words. Ghotki incident has laid the foundation of migration of Hindus from northern Sindh to Karachi and India,” he said.
Many on social media targeted Pakistani Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari for not speaking up on the violence in Ghotki.
The FIR against the school principal Notan Lal was lodged on Saturday under Article 295(c) “that pertains to “derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet” of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Videos showing a frenzied mob wielding sticks venting their anger on a Hindu temple and the Sindh Public School over the alleged incident of blasphemy, were doing the rounds on social media.
The police registered three cases against more than 200 people in connection with the anti-Hindu riots in Pakistan Sindh province’s Ghotki town.
Notan Lal was booked and arrested following the protests, road blockages and riots in Ghotki city and its adjacent small towns.
The mob also vandalised the Sacho Satram Das temple and five shops owned by members of the Hindu community in Ghotki’s Jilani Market.
The houses of Hindu families were also attacked, with the mob blocking off roads in the area. Large contingents of police and paramilitary Rangers were deployed in Ghotki on Sunday following protests.
Religious groups and organisations called for a shutter-down strike in the wake of the incident. All business centres in Ghotki remained closed on Sunday.
Sukkur Region’s Additional Inspector General Jamil Ahmed said on Sunday that the accused principal was in “safe custody” of the police. He said a fair investigation would be ensured after confirmation of the facts and justice will prevail.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is also the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said that the protesters had vandalised three temples, a private school and multiple houses belonging to the Hindu community.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also shared a video of protesters breaking the infrastructure of the school and expressed concern over the situation.
The rioters allegedly included supporters of radical religious leader Pir Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu, who is widely accused of involvement in forced conversions of Hindu women in Sindh.