SUKKUR: Properties worth millions of rupees were attacked and several shops belonging to the Hindu community looted on Sunday by an enraged mob in Ghotki town after the owner of a school was accused of committing blasphemy.
According to sources in Ghotki district, people belonging to various sects took to the streets after learning that the owner of a private school had allegedly made blasphemous remarks about Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on Saturday.
A student of the school, Mohammad Ibtisam, told police and journalists that he had informed his father soon after the professor had made the controversial remarks but no complaint could be registered immediately because he was quite ill.
Subsequently, an enraged mob led by local religious leaders attacked properties owned by Hindus and looted their shops, taking away goods worth millions.
Some persons damaged the SSD Dhaam Mandir and broke open shops in Jillani Market belonging to Suresh Kumar, Gopi Chand, Gurmukh Das and others in broad daylight.
Police brought the situation under control and posted guards to protect the life and property of Hindus. For support, they called a heavy contingent of Rangers.
Members of the civil society called a meeting and took out a ‘Peace Zindabad’ rally to express solidarity with the Hindu community.
Later, the angry mob blocked the National Highway in protest against the alleged blasphemous remarks. They raised slogans and demanded of the authorities to arrest Prof Lal.
When Ghotki SSP Dr Farrukh Lanjar told the protesters that the school owner had been taken into custody they dispersed.
The police officer assured them that a transparent enquiry would be held to reveal the full facts of the incident.
Shopping centres remained closed on Sunday across Ghotki district.
Dr Lanjar told journalists that those responsible for attacking the properties of Hindus and looting their shops would be dealt with as per the law.
According to sources, police registered a case against Prof Lal on a complaint by Abdul Aziz Rajput, the father of Ibtisam, a student of class 11.
According to the complaint, Prof Lal on Saturday entered a class where the students, including Ibtisam, were studying Islamiyat. He made some blasphemous remarks when he was informed of the subject being taught.
Meanwhile, the violent episode was condemned by a leader of Sunni Tehreek, Mehboob Ali Sehto, and Mufti Muhammad Ibrahim Qadri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan. They demanded of the authorities to hold a transparent enquiry.
According to sources, Prof Lal has been shifted to an undisclosed location to protect his life.
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019