Mithi police in Sindh's Tharparkar district have arrested a man who forced a Hindu worker of the Thar coal project to mock and hurl abuse at his religious deities after a video of the incident went viral.
In the video, seen by Dawn, the suspect can be seen hurling obscenities at a young man, who looks visibly shaken at the ordeal. The suspect repeatedly tells the young man to hurl abuses at the Hindu religion and deities, while also forcing him to say "Allahu Akbar".
It was not immediately clear when the exchange was recorded, but on Tuesday, the video went viral on social media, prompting the Sindh government to take notice and order the police to arrest the suspect.
Subsequently, police arrested the suspect, identified as Abdul Salam Abu Dawood, and registered a case against him on behalf of the state at Mithi Police Station. The case has been lodged under Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs) and 298 (Use of derogatory remarks in respect of holy personages) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Mithi Police SHO Inspector Mohammad Soomar.
The complainant, while referring to the video clip, stated that the suspect had forced the Hindu man, identified as Mukesh Bheel, to hurl abuses at his religion and deities.
The Hindu man was also forced to hurl abuses at his mother and sister. The police official said that the suspect had committed sacrilege of the Hindu religion, which had hurt feelings of the minority Hindu population and caused anguish among the community.
According to the SHO, the suspect had stopped Mukesh on a main road around five to six kilometres from Mithi near the shrine of Chutthan Shah and slapped him. He also grabbed him by the neck while forcing him to hurl abuses at his deities.
In a tweet, Sindh chief minister's adviser Murtaza Wahab said the suspect had been arrested from Khoski in Badin district.
According to local journalists, Salam too used to work in the Thar coal project, but had been sacked some time ago. His Facebook profile still lists the Thar coal project as his employer.
Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi took "strong notice" of the video showing the young Hindu man being harassed, his office said in a tweet, adding that the interior secretary and Sindh police chief were asked to confirm and arrest the harasser.
"Pakistan has and will always ensure protection to its minorities as enshrined in our constitution. [...] How dare anyone in this country violate our laws in such a manner?" the president was quoted as saying. He noted that "the state through Sindh Police" had promptly arrested the suspect, Salam.
Calling upon people to "remain alert", the president said: "Such isolated ugly incidents are used to give a bad name to the country. I condemn it and I assure all citizens that we in Riasat-e-Madina cannot and will not allow this to happen."
Rights activist and PTI minority wing leader from Mithi Krishan Sharma also appreciated the authorities' swift response in registering the FIR against the suspect. Sharma said that Salam had tried to disturb peace through his actions, but the police had responded quickly.
He also lauded the response of the Muslim community, saying it would discourage those who wanted to create an environment similar to what is being witnessed in India. "We don't want to see such an environment in our country [Pakistan]," he said.