- Hindu community centre, 10 shops torched over alleged Quran desecration in Larkana
- Partial strike observed in Larkana, Jaffarabad districts of Sindh and some areas of Balochistan
- Two protesters and one policeman injured in clashes
An angry crowd torched a Hindu community centre in Larkana after allegations circulated that a Hindu had desecrated the Holy Quran, police said on Sunday.
The incident took place overnight in Larkana in Sindh after some people said they saw burned pages of the Holy Quran in a garbage bin near the home of a Hindu man, said Anwar Laghari, the area police officer.
Laghari said that a crowd of about 200 angry people gathered and attacked the dharamshala (community centre), which was next to a Hindu temple. He said the building was partially gutted, while the suspect and his family members were taken into protective custody.
The officer said initial investigation revealed that the Hindu had rented the house from a Muslim family and cleaned it before he moved in. He may have burned the holy book unintentionally, the policeman said.
Sources said that the arrested 32-year-old man named Sangeet Kumar was in intoxication of liquor when he profaned the Quran.
Hundreds of students from local Islamic seminaries attacked the temple holding batons, one witness, Javed Shah, said. Police arrived quickly to protect Kumar from the angry crowd.
“They acted smartly and took him out after making him put on a police uniform to save him from the wrath of the crowd,” said Shah.
“It took nearly 20 minutes to break down the doors (of the temple) before they entered the compound and set it on fire. They also set fire to the temple before ransacking it.”
Crowds also attacked Hindu property in the nearby towns of Usta Muhammad, Dera Allah Yar and Sohbat Pur, but they were dispersed by police, senior officer Ashfaq Anwar said.
He said dozens attempted to set fire to a temple and some shops owned by Hindus. Police fired tear gas shots into the air. He said someone from the crowd fired at the police, and two civilians and an officer were wounded.
“Our dharamshala has been gutted and the temple has been partially damaged. All the statues have been destroyed by the attackers,” Kalpana Devi, chairperson of the local Hindu committee said.
“The situation is not satisfactory,” Larkana Deputy Inspector General Khadim Rind said. “Sanjeet Kumar has been accused of desecrating the holy book by the locals. The accused is in our custody.”
The Hindu Panchayat Council, a representative body of Hindu minorities, has appealed Hindus to keep a low profile while celebrating the ongoing Holi festival of colours.
PARTIAL STRIKE IN SINDH:
Meanwhile, a partial strike was observed on Sunday in Larkana, Jaffarabad districts of Sindh and some areas of Balochistan over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran.
Moreover, a ban on pillion riding was imposed in the city under Section 144.
Additional contingents of police and Rangers were deployed in the affected areas to prevent any untoward incident.
A clash between protesters, mostly belonging to religious organisations, and police took place in Dera Allahyar area of Sindh’s Jaffarabad district. Police resorted to firing after being targeted by stones thrown by the protesters.
Two of the protesters and one policeman were injured in the incident.
Moreover, 10 shops were also burnt down on Jinnah road in Jaffarabad’s Osta Mohammad tehsil.
Another incident was reported in Sohbatpur area where police resorted to firing to disperse the protesters.
Besides, inter-district transports also went off the road causing inconvenience to commuters.
Police and Rangers have been deployed at all Hindu worship places and key business centres in the entire district.
According to reports, an unannounced curfew has been clamped in the city as tension overtook the entire city.
GOVERNMENT TAKES NOTICE:
In the meanwhile, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan took notice of the tense situation in the city and directed the law-enforcement agencies to expedite steps to contain the situation.
The governor also directed the inspector general of police to file an early report over the outbreak of violence in the city.
Taking notice of the incident, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talked to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on phone and directed him to immediately curb the situation.
Meanwhile, the CM summoned a report from the Larkana DIG regarding the volatile situation.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain denounced the violent situation, asserting the assaults on the properties of Hindu community, stand in stark contradiction with Islamic teachings.
Expressing sorrow over alleged burning of holy pages and ensuing violence in Larkana, he demanded the government to arrest the accused and those involved in attacking the temple.
NAWAZ CONDEMNS DESECRATION:
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also condemned attacks on Hindu minorities in southern part of the country.
Nawaz has directed all provincial governments to take all measures to protect the life and property of Hindus and other minorities and to ensure that the situation is under immediate control, a statement from the PM office said.
“Provision of security to all minorities is the responsibility of the government,” Nawaz Sharif said.
Some religious leaders also condemned attacks on the innocent minorities and said they had no relations with the incident.
Chief of the Pakistani religious clerics, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, condemned attacks on minorities and demanded a judicial enquiry.
Hindu and Muslim groups also met to help restore peace in the area.