Local police revealed that dozens of people have been arrested in Sindh’s southwestern town of Ghotki after an angry mob of Muslims ravaged a Hindu temple, a school, and multiple homes belonging to the Hindu community.
The riots took place in the aftermath of the blasphemy accusations leveled against a Hindu school principal. His students claimed that the Hindu principal had insulted Prophet Muhammad (SAW), triggering angry sentiments that exploded into riots across the town of Ghotki.
A Hindu principal in Ghotki, Sindh has purportedly been accused of committing blasphemy by extremists, who have vandalised his school. Hindu community in the area is in danger. They must be provided with protection immediately! Video & report via Shankar Meghwar pic.twitter.com/Xctf04brli
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) September 15, 2019
Reports circulating on social media reveal that after the mob ransacked the temple, scores of Muslim youth and men came out to guard the temple and stand in solidarity with the Hindu community.
— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) September 17, 2019
Hindu Principal accused of Blasphemy
The attack occurred after a Hindu school principal was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and the authorities reported that the rioters ransacked a Hindu temple, and a private school on Sunday.
The Hindu temple was badly dismantled and damage, the windows were broken, and the statues of the Hindu idols were also damaged. Several homes and shops nearby, belonging to the Hindu community, were also damaged.
These are Muslims sitting inside a Hindu temple in Ghotki, Sindh. They spent the night there to make sure no fanatical mob is able to attack the place
It all started when a student, Ibtisam, accused school Principal Notan Lal of uttering blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while delivering a lesson to the students. The boy’s father, Abdul Aziz Khan, informed the media that Notan Lal sent staff members from the school to his house in a bid to pressurize Ibtisam to retract his statement.
Khan explained that these pressure tactics resulted in a confrontation.
Investigation on Blasphemy Charges
Additional IGP Dr. Jamil Ahmed informed on Monday that principal Notan Lal is being investigated on the blasphemy accusations. He said that Lal has denied making any blasphemous statements. Additional IGP Ahmed also informed that the local police has restored order, and three people have been booked under charges of ransacking the Hindu temple, damaging Hindu property and disrupting law and order situation.
Tweeting from his official account, additional IGP Jamil Ahmed said, “Alleged accused in a sensitive case of Ghotki is now in the custody of Police. The situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours.”
Alleged accused in a sensitive case of Ghotki is now in the custody of Police. Situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours.
Fair investigation is being done after confirming facts & justice ensured. Cases against hooligans are being registered & miscreants being nabbed.
— Addl IGP Dr Jamil Ahmed (@jahmed95) September 15, 2019
He added, “Fair investigation is being done after confirming facts & justice ensured. Cases against hooligans are being registered & miscreants being nabbed.”
While the Ghotki incident reminds the nation of Pakistan to take substantial measures to eliminate mob violence and riots triggered by blasphemy allegations, it also highlighted the fervor of harmony and unity between Sindh’s religious communities.
Notable historian and author, Nadeem F Paracha, said in this regard, “These are Muslims sitting inside a Hindu temple in Ghotki, Sindh. They spent the night there to make sure no fanatical mob is able to attack the place. Some schemers have tried to pollute Sindh with bigoted ideas, but the traditional Sindhi ethos of tolerance has remained strong.”
Sindh’s town of Ghotki is home to thousands of Hindus, and the total population of Pakistan consists of over 3.3 million Hindus. Blasphemy is one of the gravest crimes in Pakistan, however, the majority of the cases that have come forward have either been marred with bloodshed and mob violence or have been proven factitious and false.
These are Muslims sitting inside a Hindu temple in Ghotki, Sindh. They spent the night there to make sure no fanatical mob is able to attack the place. Some schemers have tried to pollute Sindh with bigoted ideas, but the traditional Sindhi ethos of tolerance has remained strong. pic.twitter.com/Vl4IIMWXLq
— Nadeem Farooq Paracha (@NadeemfParacha) September 17, 2019
Human rights groups reveal that around 67 people have been killed over dubious blasphemy charges since 1990. The penalties for blasphemy tend to range between small fines to the death sentence, depending on the gravity of the statements enunciated by the accused.
It is important to note that the courts of Pakistan have never ordered an execution on charges of blasphemy, however, such accusations, even if rumored or false, trigger mob violence, riots and cases of lynching. In multiple cases, people have been discovered to be misusing the blasphemy law to entrap non-Muslims or settle scores.