LARKANA: Tension gripped Larkana after a group attacked and set on fire a Hindu dharmshala in Jinnah Bag area early Sunday morning, partially damaging the mandir located nearby.
The attack was reportedly in reaction to the alleged desecration of the pages of the Holy Quran by a drug addict, Sangeet Kumar, who belongs to the Hindu community.
Hindus account for around nine percent of Larkana's population of around 400,000, with many running their own businesses.
A strike was also observed in the city as people protested against the alleged desecration.
Police arrested Kumar after enraged supporters of various religious parties attacked the dharamshala.
Police and Rangers fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob which insisted that the 35-year-old accused be handed over to them.
“The police have managed to take away the drug addict, but the situation is very tense in the area as many people armed with weapons are roaming in Jinnah Bag, Resham Gali and Pakistan Chowk areas,” local journalist Qayoom Chandio told The Express Tribune.
Many shops were damaged and looted during the chaotic situation in the area, forcing owners to shut down their businesses.
PM takes notice of Larkana incident
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken the notice of the attack on dharmshala in Jinnah Bag area of Larkana, Radio Pakistan reported.
Expressing grief over the incident, the premier said that the protection of the worship places of minorities is the responsibility of the government.
He directed the provincial government to take measures to protect the dharmshala and ensure the safety of the lives and properties of the minorities. He further said that pre-emptive measures should be taken to avoid reoccurrence of such incidents in future.
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah took notice of the issue and directed DIG Larkana to bring the situation under control and probe the incident
Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto also said that those behind inciting violence will be brought to justice.
I consider attack on temple akin to attack on GKB.perpetrators will b brought 2 justice as will people who spread lies and incited violence— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) March 16, 2014
Deliberate attempts to disturb religious harmony will not succeed. Maintaining peace in this volatile situation is the number one priority.— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) March 16, 2014
The incident also had repercussions in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where protesters angry at the alleged blasphemy in Larkana clashed with police in the towns of Osta Muhammad and Dera Murad Jamali.
Two protesters and one policeman were injured during the clashes in Osta Muhammad, while four shops owned by Hindus were set ablaze, senior local police official Syed Ashfaq Shah told AFP.