Islamabad: A group of Muslim men who damaged a temple and attacked homes of Hindus during a recent protest in Karachi against an anti-Islam film have been charged under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy law, a media report said on Sunday. Nine men, including Maulvi Habibur Rehman and his accomplices, have been named in the police complaint regarding the ransacking of the Sri Krishna Bhagwan Mandir in Gulshan-e-Maymar area of Karachi.
The temple was vandalised during government-sanctioned protests against the film "Innocence Of Muslims" on September 21. The men charged by police belong to residential areas near the temple, The Express Tribune reported. They also ransacked some houses and looted jewellery and valuables.
Police registered a case against the men under 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which covers "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs". They were also charged with looting, vandalism and theft. Police officer Jaffar Baloch said: "For me, every believer is the same. The desecration of a temple meant blasphemy to me and that's why we inserted that section."
Welcoming the move by the police, Pakistan Human Rights Commission head Zohra Yusuf said she had never heard of a blasphemy case registered against Muslims.
No one has been arrested so far by police because the accused are on the run. Authorities have also beefed up security for the Hindus living in Gulshan-e-Maymar. "We are not Americans. We have no link with them. Why were we attacked?" said a local resident. "We are Pakistanis. We have never been to India. Let us live here," said another resident.
Welcoming the move by the police, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf said she had never heard of a blasphemy case registered against Muslims for damaging a house of worship. "When Ahmadi houses of worship are attacked, blasphemy sections are not inserted. Also, minorities are fearful to lodge complaints," she said.