KARACHI: In a rare case, police in Pakistan have booked Muslim citizens for attacking and damaging a Hindu temple after a student leveled blasphemy allegations against his Hindu teacher in Ghotki, a small town in the country’s southern Sindh province, officials said on Monday.
“We have lodged a case under section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code against 45 people who were identified through video footage and have arrested two of them for attacking and damaging the temple,” Senior Superintendent Police, Dr. Farrukh Lanjar, told Arab News, adding two other cases had also been registered against the rioters for damaging shops and blocking the road.
Earlier, a case was registered against a Hindu school teacher for allegedly making objectionable remarks about the Prophet of Islam, an allegation that triggered widespread riots in the area. “A case has also been registered against the Hindu teacher under Section 295-C, which deals with derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” Lanjar said.
Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code deals with offenses related to religions, prescribes punishments for “injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class.”
“Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction damage or defilement as an insult to their religion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both,” it reads.
Section 295-B specifically prescribes punishment for defiling, damaging or desecrating the copy of Qur’an and section 295-C determines mandatory death penalty for a person using derogatory remarks for or disrespecting the Prophet of Islam.
The official said the law, which was on the statute book but hardly used for the protection of people of minority faiths, was immediately invoked in this case. “We invoked the law for the protection of minorities who are equal citizens of the country and free to practice their religion,” Lanjar said.
He added that eight people had been nabbed and raids were being conducted for apprehending others who attacked the temple and damaged properties.“We took the religious scholars of different Islamic schools of thought to met with Hindu community leaders and apologize for what the mob had done. They stressed that such acts of vandalism were against the teachings of Islam. Those involved will be arrested, booked and severely punished,” Lanjar said.