Hindu teacher sentenced to life imprisonment over blasphemy charges in Pakistan
A Hindu teacher was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court over charges of blasphemy in Pakistan's southern Sindh province.
The teacher, identified as Nautan Lal, was also fined Pakistani ₹50,000 by Additional Sessions Judge Murtaza Solangi in Ghotki in Sindh.
The court took two years to convict Lal who has been in jail since 2019 as an undertrial prisoner. In the past two years, his requests for bail have been rejected twice.
Lal was arrested in September 2019 after a video went viral on social media in which an intermediate student of the public school alleged that the Hindu teacher had committed blasphemy against the Prophet.
The student claimed that Lal, who is the owner of the school and teaches physics at a local government degree college, had visited the school that day and committed the act.
Shortly afterwards, a leader of the Jamaat-e-ahle Sunnat party and local cleric Mufti Abdul Karim Saeedi filed a complaint with the police against Lal under the blasphemy act.
As the news spread, a protest erupted in the town and a violent mob attacked the Sacho Satram Dham Temple and damaged its idols in Ghotki.
The caretaker of the Sacho Satram temple, Jay Kumar, later said that around 50 masked men had attacked the temple but some 500 Muslims later came and guarded the temple the whole night.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws were enacted by former military dictator General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s. Nobody has been executed under these laws but several people have been killed on mere suspicion of committing blasphemy.
Human and civil rights groups have said that the blasphemy law is often misused to settle personal enmities and land disputes particularly in rural areas.
Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.
According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, the community claims that over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.
The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by extremists.
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