Social media stands up to violent extremists as alleged blasphemy case stokes riots in Ghotki

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There is a law and order situation in Ghotki, Sindh over alleged blasphemy by a Hindu owner and principal of a local school. An FIR was registered against Notan Lal, the accused when one of his students testified that he had uttered blasphemous words in the classroom.

A shutter down strike and protests followed the incident to demand Notan Lal’s arrest. Later, videos on social media showed masked men vandalizing Hindu temples and the Public School run by Notan Lal.

The incident strengthened Ghotki’s position as the hotbed of interfaith strife in Pakistan, where alleged cases of forced conversion have surfaced in the past. It is home to the Shrine of Bharchondi, whose heir Pir Mian Mithoo is blamed for forced conversions of Hindu girls and their marriages with Muslim men.

The vandalism at the temples attracted widespread condemnation from across the country. People drew the government’s attention towards the propensity of mob lynching, vandalism and arson against religious minorities over unverified allegation of blasphemy and how they still remain defenseless against bigotry. Minority rights activist, Kapil Dev asked the hard question.

Amnesty International called for protection of the vulnerable Hindu community.

Social media users widely condemned the mob attack and vandalism of the temples. There were speculations that the attacks were carried out at the behest of Pir Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithoo.  #Ghotki and #ArrestMianMithoo remained among the top three trends in Pakistan on Sunday.

Renowned journalist and author Nadeem F. Paracha named and shamed Mian Mithoo.

This twitter user blamed Mian Mithoo for leading the mob that vandalized the temples

There were calls for revising the blasphemy laws, perhaps over their propensity to be exploited for persecution of minorities.

The air of hopelessness was however, blown away by the compassion and humanity of the local Muslims of Ghotki and other areas of Sindh who showed up to express their support and to protect the Hindu community of Ghotki.

The government of Sindh also sent a delegation led by two provincial ministers to show their support to the minority community.  Police have registered FIR against dozens of vandals who attacked the temples.

The response of social media users and the local community was very encouraging. People as responsible citizens chose to let the law of the land take its course and rejected mob justice. They understood and accepted the fact that an entire community cannot be punished for alleged felony of an individual.


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