Hindu temples, houses, school ransacked in Pakistan



By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Correspondent

Islamabad: Law and order of Ghotki town and surrounding areas in Sindh province of Pakistan deteriorated on Sunday as students of seminaries took to the streets to protest against an alleged incident of blasphemy and ransacked Hindu Temples, houses, shops and a school owned by Hindu community

The protests began on Saturday after a case was filed against a principal, from the Hindu community, of Sindh Public School, following the complaint of Abdul Aziz Rajput, a student’s father who claimed that the principal had committed blasphemy. The case was lodged under Article 295(c) of Pakistan Penal Code — that pertains to “derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet”.

The religious students demanded that the police arrest the principal, issued a call for a shutter-down strike, and took to the streets in protest. Videos of stick-wielding protesters were shared on social media on Sunday, in which they were seen vandalising a Hindu temple and damaging the school.

Ghotki Senior Superintendent of Police Farrukh Lanjar told reporters that police were controlling the law and order situation in the area.

“The situation is being handled properly to avoid further damage or riots,” Advocate Veerji Kolhi, special assistant to Chief Minister Sindh on Human Rights, told the media.

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Member of the National Assembly of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, who is also the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told media that the case has been handed over to a high police official who will further investigate the matter. He added that the principal was at an undisclosed location for safety reasons and will be handed over to police.

“I have talked to Sindh Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam who has assured me the police will fully protect the accused, therefore, I am going to hand [the principal] over to police,” he said.

He said that the protesters had vandalised three temples, a private school and multiple houses belonging to the Hindu community and added that he had asked police to register an case against people involved in the riots.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also shared a video of protesters breaking the infrastructure of the school and expressed concern over the situation.

Protests by religious extremists were also held in surrounding towns, including Mirpur Mathelo and Adilpur, where demonstrators blocked roads and demanded that the police arrest the school principal.

According to rights activist Sattar Zangejo, the Hindu community of the area was forced to remain indoors due to the riots.

Later in the evening, civil society organizations organized a peace rally and appealed to the citizens to remain calm.

It is said that allegations on Hindu Principal had a political background, as he had opposed the feudal lords in recent elections for national assembly seat.

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