Notan Mal, the principal, has headed the Ghotki public school for 30 years. The father of one of his students reported him to police. He is now kept safe in a secret location and faces the death penalty. Hindu and Muslim activists call for respect for fundamental rights.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - In the Pakistani province of Sindh public order is out of control after some cities were raided by Muslim radicals yesterday. Their fury was motivated by the alleged blasphemy offenses pronounced by a Hindu man, principal of the Sindh Public School.
The man is accused by one of his students of having tarnished the name of the prophet Muhammad. As soon as the news of the accusations against the headmaster spread, the radicals took to the streets and launched unauthorized demonstrations. Then they headed to places of worship in the minority in Ghotki and in the neighboring towns of Mirpur Mathelo and Adilpur. In all, they have ransacked three Hindu temples and a private minority school.
The incident that triggered the revolt took place on September 14th. Notan Mal, the principal, was reported by Abdul Aziz Rajput, the father of Muhammad Ihtisham. The Principal is accused of having violated art. 295 (c) of the Pakistan Penal Code, one of the so-called "black laws" on blasphemy which provide for the death penalty in case of conviction. The police have accepted the complaint and are investigating the veracity of the disputed facts. Meanwhile he is kept safe in a secret location.
Farrukh Lanjar, local police superintendent, reports that the agents are deployed to maintain public order. Veerji Kolhi, lawyer and special assistant of the Chief Minister of Sindh on the subject of human rights, reports to the Dawn agency that "the situation is adequately monitored to avoid further damage or clashes".
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan broadcasts the video of the devastation against the school and expresses concern about "the alarming reports of blasphemy accusations against Ghotki and the outbreak of mass violence".
On Twitter, various activists and ordinary people, both Muslim and Hindu, are protesting against the violence. Saeed Sangri, Hindu, says the headmaster, is "a peaceful and responsible citizen who has been running the school for 30 years" and condemns "the attack of religious criminals". Ghotki, he adds, "is under threat from religious extremism. Some people want to use the religious card. The authorities must intervene".
Hamza Ali Abbasi, a well-known Pakistani actor and director, writes: “As a Muslim, I feel ashamed and apologize to our Pakistani Hindu community. We must ask Allah's forgiveness for this atrocity. " Syed Hussain Hamdani says: "Fundamental rights must be guaranteed. They include: equality of status, opportunities and before the law, social, economic and political justice, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association ".
In Pakistan the accusation of blasphemy is punishable by the death penalty and the mere suspicion is enough to stir up the spirits and perpetrate mass lynching. In the country no condemned has ever been executed, but the trials continue for a long time because of the threats directed to the judges and to those who investigate the cases. One of the best known cases is the one that involved the Christian Asia Bibi. According to the US State Department, there are 77 suspects in the country's prisons.