Pakistan: On 16th March, a Hindu temple in Larkana, Sindh Province was set on fire by a mob of Muslim men following a rumour that a member of the Hindu community had desecrated the Koran.
The incident took place as a response to Sangeet Kumar, 42, being accused of burning pages from the Koran. However, according to local sources these allegations are false and instead the incident was a form of revenge for a dispute between Sangeet Kumar and a Muslim man.
A blasphemy allegation is a dangerous weapon as it can lead to years in prison and in the worst case, a death-sentence. Blasphemy allegations are often used against members of minorities and to settle personal disputes.
This attack caused a lot of physical damage to both the temple and its surroundings and left the Hindu community in distress. But due to the rapid action taken by local authorities, the situation was quickly brought under control. The police were called in to defuse the situation and they took Kumar into custody for safety reasons and are yet to question him. A special investigation team has been formed to conduct an investigation; the team includes two members from both the Hindu and Muslim community who will act as observers for the investigation.
The human rights activist Ali Palh has spoken about the attack and says that on one hand the incident shows that intolerance is increasing in our society yet on the other, it indicates that support for Hindus has extended among society and includes workers of religious parties, nationalists and political workers.
On Thursday 20th of March, taking suo motu notice of this attack in Larkana, the Supreme Court appointed a Larkana district and sessions judge as the inquiry officer and ordered them to investigate the attack submit a report to them within 15 days. In addition, The Hindu Panchayat Council, a representative body of Hindu minorities, has shown its support and appealed to the local authorities to address the matter.
GHRD embraces the rapid action taken by the Supreme Court as well as the police and other authorities and hopes that the investigation will result in a positive outcome for the accused and the Hindu community. We hope that the action taken is a sign of greater support and acknowledgement for the Hindu community and their rights.
GHRD condemns the attack and the accusation of blasphemy. At the time of writing, Sangeet Kumar is still in custody and two Muslim men are also in custody and under investigation for being involved in the attack.
The case is still under investigation by GHRD.