Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

Blasphemy law is often exploited by religious hard-liners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle scores. Above, activists carry placards against Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was released after spending eight years on death row for blasphemy, in Karachi on November 21, 2018. (AFP file)
Updated 16 September 2019

Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

  • The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: A crowd in Pakistan ransacked a school and Hindu temple after a Hindu principal was accused of blasphemy, police said on Monday, the latest case to raise concern about the fate of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.
The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy in comments about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The enraged crowd ransacked the school and damaged a nearby temple, a district police chief said.
The principal had been taken into protective custody and police were investigating both the alleged blasphemy and the rioters, he added.
“It seems the principal had not done anything intentionally,” the district police chief, Furrukh Ali, told Reuters.
Insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world.
No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes kill people accused of it.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is often exploited by religious hard-liners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle scores.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the weekend violence, footage of which was recorded in a video and circulated on social media. It called on authorities should take prompt action.
“The video ... is chilling: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable,” the commission said in a post on Twitter.
Hindus make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population of 208 million, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.
In January, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of a Christian women who spent years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy in a case that had drawn alarm from religious and human rights advocates.
In March, Pakistan’s government sacked a provincial minister for making offensive comments about Hindus as tension between Pakistan and Hindu-majority neighbor India ran high after a militant attack in the Indian-controlled portion of the contested Kashmir region.


India, China trying to end army standoff in Himalayas

Updated 05 June 2020

India, China trying to end army standoff in Himalayas

  • Indian officials said Chinese soldiers entered the Indian-controlled territory of Ladakh in early May at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts
  • China has objected to India building a road through a valley connecting the region to an airstrip, possibly sparking its move to assert control over territory

NEW DELHI: Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials on Friday discussed the flaring of tensions on their disputed Himalayan border, where thousands of soldiers from the two countries have been facing off just a few hundred meters (yards) from each other for a month, an Indian official said.
The video conference came a day before generals in the Ladakh region are scheduled to meet at a border post to intensify efforts for a pullback to their pre-May positions in the region. The army officers have held a series of meetings in the past four weeks to break the impasse.
An External Affairs Ministry statement in New Delhi said both sides agreed that they should handle their differences through peaceful discussion "bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations and not allow them to become disputes.”
Indian officials say Chinese soldiers entered the Indian-controlled territory of Ladakh in early May at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts.
They said the Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warnings to leave, triggering shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights.
China has sought to downplay the confrontation while providing little information. Indian media reports say that the two armies have moved artillery guns in the region.
China has objected to India building a road through a valley connecting the region to an airstrip, possibly sparking its move to assert control over territory along the border that is not clearly defined in places.
India and China fought a border war in 1962 and have been trying since the early 1990’s to settle their dispute without success.
In all, China claims some 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in India’s northeast, including the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh with its traditionally Buddhist population. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas, including part of the Ladakh region.