Hindu man arrested in Pakistan for sharing ‘blasphemous’ content on WhatsApp

A Hindu businessman was arrested in Pakistan’s Balochistan province for allegedly sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp, sparking violence by local residents.
Pakistani students of Islamic seminaries chant slogans during a rally in support of blasphemy laws in Islamabad in March.(AP File Photo)
Pakistani students of Islamic seminaries chant slogans during a rally in support of blasphemy laws in Islamabad in March.(AP File Photo)
Updated on May 04, 2017 07:51 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Islamabad | ByImtiaz Ahmad

A Hindu businessman has been arrested in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province for allegedly sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp, the latest in a string of instances of members of minorities facing such charges.

Violence erupted after Prakash Kumar, 35, was arrested at Hub in Lasbela district on Wednesday. Police acted after local residents complained he allegedly shared blasphemous content on WhatsApp.

A mob pelted stones at police when they refused to hand over Kumar so that people could “administer justice themselves and punish” him, Dawn News channel reported. Several police officials were injured during the protest.

Police dispersed the mob by using teargas and firing in the air. Twenty protesters were taken into custody and a search operation was conducted to arrest those suspected of inciting the mob, officials said.

People in Hub also shut their shops and offices to protest against the incident. The violence erupted when protesters organised a demonstration outside a police station in Hub and demanded the closure of the shop owned by Kumar, The Express Tribune reported.

Shops owned by Hindus were shut down and roads connecting Sindh province to Balochistan were closed for the police operation.

“Prakash, (the son of) Prem Chand has been arrested after local people accused him of blasphemy,” police official Zia Mandokhel said. A case was lodged and the mobile phone from which Kumar allegedly shared the blasphemous content was seized, he said.

A court sent Kumar to jail for further interrogation and he was shifted to Gaddani Central Jail.

Blasphemy, which carries the death penalty, is a sensitive issue in Pakistan. Allegations often prompt mob violence.

A few weeks ago, a mob lynched 23-year-old university student Mashal Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province over allegations of blasphemy. He was shot and beaten to death in the presence of policemen.

Vigilantes have murdered 65 people over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures compiled by the Center for Research and Security Studies.

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