A Hindu veterinary doctor in Pakistan has been charged under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws after a Muslim cleric complained that he was deliberately selling medicine wrapped in paper bearing Islamic religious text.
An angry crowd set fire to his clinic near Mirpur Khas, Sindh province, and other Hindu-owned shops were looted. The vet said his use of the paper, apparently torn from an Islamic studies school textbook, was a mistake. If he is convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Scenes from Phulhadiyon, Sindh where riots have erupted after a mullah allegedly accused a Hindu doctor, Dr Ramesh Kumar, of committing blasphemy. Govt must ensure safety of the area's Hindu residents… pics via Syma Jafri pic.twitter.com/EK8Jb2BYM5
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) May 27, 2019
According to reports, the vet had used pages from the school textbook to wrap up medicines for a customer with sick livestock. But the customer saw Islamic religious content on the pages and went to a local cleric who informed police.
Maulana Hafeez-ur-Rehman, a local leader of the religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami, told BBC Urdu that the doctor had done it deliberately.
According to police, the vet has insisted that his use of the paper was a mistake. He has since been charged with insulting religious beliefs and defiling the Koran and faces life in prison.
Four shops, including the vet’s clinic and a medical store, were ransacked and then set alight, local journalists reported.
Hundreds of Pakistanis, most of them minorities, have been charged with blasphemy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan over the past few decades, often after petty disputes and as a way to settle personal vendettas. Here are some other recent cases of Hindus being charged or attacked over ‘blasphemy’:
- Hindu teenager, Sateesh Kumar, shot dead over Quran ‘desecration’ in Pakistan
- Hindu man accused of ‘blasphemy’ in Pakistan was framed by Muslim business rival
- 19-year-old Pakistani Hindu boy upset over sister’s forced conversion & marriage booked for blasphemy
In one of the most high-profile cases of ‘blasphemy’, Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islamic Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She spent years on death row until her conviction was overturned in 2018 after severe international pressure, and she left for Canada.
It might come as a shock to many urban yuppies in Bharat, but even the dashing, charismatic ex-cricketer and current PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan, is a supporter of this medieval blasphemy law.
Unfortunately, the sentiment regarding blasphemy against Islam is not much different in ‘secular’ Bharat, as we saw during the Kamlesh Tiwari episode when large Muslim lynch mobs protested in several cities demanding that Tiwari be handed over to them for sharia-style justice for alleged blasphemy. Muslim mobs often resort to violence over Facebook posts, not waiting for law to take its course.
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