KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: A crowd in Pakistan ransacked a school and Hindu temple after a Hindu principal was accused of blasphemy, police said on Monday, and the latest case to raise concern about the fate of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.
The violence exploded in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy in comments about the Prophet (PBUH) of Islam. The enraged crowd ransacked the school and damaged a nearby temple, a district police chief said.
The principal had been taken into defensive custody and police were examining both the alleged blasphemy and the rioters, he added.
“It seems the principal had not done anything intentionally,” the district police chief, Furrukh Ali, told Reuters.
The offense against the Islam’s Prophet (PBUH) carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan; the population is about 95 percent Muslim majority and has among the toughest blasphemy laws through out the world.
No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes execute people blamed of it.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is often misused by some fearless law breakers as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle scores.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the weekend violence, footage of which was recorded in a video and circulated on social media. It called on authorities should take swift action.
“The video … is frightening: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable,” the commission said in a post on Twitter.
Hindus make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population of 208 million, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.
In January, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of a Christian woman who spent several years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy in a case that had drawn alarm from religious and human rights advocates.
In March, the government of Pakistan sacked a provincial minister for making offensive comments about Hindus as tension between Pakistan and Hindu-majority neighbor India ran high after a militant attack in the Indian-controlled portion of the contested Kashmir region.