Alleged blasphemy by Hindu principal leads to riots in Pakistan

Ghotki Riots

Ghotki Riots

Protests began in Ghotki on Saturday after a FIR was filed against the principal - who is from the Hindu community - of Sindh Public School on the complaint of Abdul Aziz Rajput, a student's father who claimed that the former had committed blasphemy. 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 where the alleged incident took place. The police registered case against 50 rioters in connection with the violence. Sukkur additional IGP Jamil Ahmed said: "We are trying to deal with a serious situation in a cool, calculated, impartial and professional manner". He said a fair investigation would be ensured after confirmation of the facts and justice will prevail.

"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 either in Karachi or in Hyderabad today", he said. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is also the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told the Dawn that the case has been handed over to Hyderabad Deputy Inspector General Naeem Shaikh for probe. AIG Ahmed said that Section 295 was included because the protesters had vandalised a Hindu temple.

He also urged the Police to register an FIR against the people involved in the riots.

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

"Alarming reports of accusations of blasphemy in Ghotki and the outbreak of mob violence", the rights organisation said in a tweet.

Pakistani media reports quoted senior police officials of the region as saying that the situation had been brought under control.

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Advocate Veerji Kolhi, special assistant to Chief Minister Sindh on Human Rights, told Dawn: "The situation is being handled properly to avoid further damage or riots". The parents then met Abdul Haq, the controversial religious figure who is alleged to have played a prominent role in forcible conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh.

Demands were raised by the residents of the area for arrest of the school principal, who had allegedly made a blasphemous remark.

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

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