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.
Reports frm Ghotki Sindh tht school run by non Muslim principal under attack after principal accused of #blasphemy by student. Some hindu temples & homes in area also under attack by Islamists chanting “Allah u Akbar”. Police can b seen as bystanders.
Welcome to Islamic Republic pic.twitter.com/6QIndRfKDW
— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) September 15, 2019
A Hindu principal in Ghotki, Sindh has purportedly been accused of committing blasphemy by extremists, who have vandalised his school. Hindu community in the area is in danger. They must be provided with protection immediately! Video & report via Shankar Meghwar pic.twitter.com/Xctf04brli
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) September 15, 2019
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.
Aren’t we Pakistani?
We #Pakistani #Hindus are only 2% of the total population. I just want to know what danger do we pose to 98% population. Just visit my timeline & see how we observed Muhrram a few days ago, but yet we suffer incidents like #Ghotki.
— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) September 15, 2019
Amnesty International called for protection of the vulnerable Hindu community.
Pakistani authorities must protect #Ghotki’s Hindu community and their places of worship. The perpetrators of the attack must be held accountable and all religious minorities must be free to practice their religion without fear. (1/2)
— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) September 16, 2019
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
First Information Report has been registered against mob that ruined Temple in Ghotki.
But, what about Mian Mitho who led mob? When will govt take action against those who incite riot and are involved in forced conversion?
— Veengas (@VeengasJ) September 16, 2019
There were calls for revising the blasphemy laws, perhaps over their propensity to be exploited for persecution of minorities.
This is beyond demeaning. You can’t vandalise a holy temple like this. Pakistan really needs to revise its blasphemy laws. This is atrocious and unacceptable. I stand up with our #Hindu community against what happened in #Ghotki
— Aliza Ansari (@aliza__ansari) September 15, 2019
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.
Local muslims in Ghotki flocked to hindu Mandir to ensure ‘safety of their hindu brothers’. Rohit Rai, Founder Pakistani Hindus Youth forum. #Ghotki
While Police has lodged FIRs against dozens of miscreants who attacked Temples. Pakistan stands with its Hindu minority. pic.twitter.com/aQxHenRKnn
— Asfandyar Bhittani (@BhittaniKhannnn) September 16, 2019
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.
میں اس وقت چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری اور وزیر اعلی سندھ کی ہدایت پر ناصر شاہ کے ہمراہ #Ghotki کے SSD دان مندر میں موجود ہوں۔ ہمارے ساتھ مختلف مکاتب فکر کے علمائے کرام بھی موجود ہیں۔ ہندو برادری کے رہنماؤں کو یقین دلایا گیا ہے مندر کی بیحرمتی کرنے والوں کے خلاف مقدمہ درج ہوگا
— Senator Saeed Ghani (@SaeedGhani1) September 15, 2019
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.