Temple torching a sorry affair

Police probe reveals religious sentiment stirred to cover monetary dispute | As word spread, mob burnt Larkana Dharamshala | Confirming desecration became secondary | Religious organisations disassociate | Curfew clamped

LARKANA/karachi/islamabad - WAQT NEWS/STAFF REPORTERS - Larkana police on Sunday confirmed that no evidence of desecration of the Holy Quran has been found, while religious organisations also dissociated themselves from the miscreants who set a Hindu temple and properties on fire for ulterior motives. 

Police investigation officer said that no evidence of burning of the Holy Quran has been found from Balu’s house except some burnt pieces of a newspaper.

The incident of burning of temple comes when the Hindu community is celebrating the festival of Holi.

The preliminary findings of a committee comprising administration officials, ulema and Hindu leaders suggest that some criminal elements orchestrated the incident by giving religious colouring to a monetary dispute. The committee which has been tasked to collect evidence has further submitted in its report that no activist of any religious organisation was found involved in the incident. 

PPP MNA Faryal Talpur has announced to get the damaged Hindu temple repaired from her own pocket.

As per details, a robbery incident took place at Morad Wahan, (Larkana) residence of 40 year old Balu alias Sanjeet some fifteen days back. Armed men made away with Rs 0.7 million along with gold ornaments meant for dowry of his two sisters who run beauty parlours in the vicinity. An FIR of the incident was also lodged at Darri police station.

According to President of Larkana Union of Journalists, Murtaza Kalhoro, some people carrying a copy of the Holy Quran came to Balu’s house and sought a deal to evade charges or to seek exemption from payment of the looted amount.

Balu declined to accommodate, saying that he had saved the amount to meet  marriage expenses of his sisters. But he did not commit any blasphemy.

Without any confirmation, a local news channel later aired the news that Balu had committed sacrilege of the Holy Quran.  SMS were also exchanged which incited public sentiment. People riding motor bikes had a round of the city and set ablaze the Hindu temple and properties without confirming the news. Police took Balu and his sisters in protective custody.

On Sunday, in a meeting at Larkana Circuit House, representatives of different political and religio-political parties distanced themselves from the incident.

PPP MNA Muhammad Ayyaz Soomro, MNA Ramaish Lal and representatives of JUI, JUP, Jamat Ahle Sunnat as well as Shia and Sunni ulema attended the meeting among officials of the district administration. 

Expressing solidarity with the Hindu community, the leaders and ulema termed it a conspiracy and demanded punishment for the conspirators and the criminal elements.

Later, a good number of Muslims visited Dharamshala and greeted the Hindu community over Holi.

Agencies add: Earlier, protesters attacked Hindu properties and a mob set fire to a temple in Larkana over alleged desecration of a Holy Quran, forcing authorities to impose curfew to quell tensions.

"The law and order problem surfaced in the city Saturday evening after local residents accused Sanjeet (Balu) of burning pages of the Holy Quran," senior local administration official Ghunwar Leghari said.

Later at night, dozens of enraged people surrounded the main Hindu temple in the city and set its Dharamshala (sanctuary) on fire, Leghari said.

Rangers and police fired warning shots and teargassed the frenzied mob to disperse the attackers. A complete strike was observed in the entire district on Sunday. Public transport also went off road causing trouble to the travellers.

Another senior police official, Khadim Hussain Rind, said two people had been arrested for their part in the violence.

It was the latest example of furiousness over an alleged violation of blasphemy laws.

The incident also had repercussions in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where protesters angry at the alleged blasphemy in Larkana clashed with police in the towns of Osta Muhammad and Dera Murad Jamali. Two protesters and one policeman were injured during the clashes in Osta Muhammad, while four shops owned by Hindus were set ablaze, according to senior local police official Syed Ashfaq Shah.

Hindus account for around nine percent of Larkana's population of around 400,000, with many running their own businesses. This city, in the southern Sindh province, is the power bastion of Pakistan Peoples Party and home town of opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.


Reacting to the attack, Zardari tweeted: "I consider attack on temple akin to attack on GKB (Garhi Khuda Baksh). Perpetrators will b brought to justice…."

Garhi Khuda Baksh is a village which houses the Bhutto family mausoleum.

Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also talked to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on the phone and directed him to immediately control the situation. The chief minister summoned a report from Larkana DIG.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, who hails from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), also took notice of the situation and directed the law-enforcement agencies for expeditious steps to contain violence.


MQM chief Altaf Hussain denounced the violent situation, asserting the attack on the properties of Hindus stands in stark contradiction with Islamic teachings.

Expressing sorrow over alleged burning of holy pages and ensuing violence, he demanded the government arrest the accused and those involved in attacking Hindu temple. He called on the government to provide protection of life and property to Hindu community.


Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday expressed his deep anguish and concern over the incident in Larkana where Hindu property and temple were damaged by some miscreants.  He said that provision of security to all minorities was the responsibility of the government.

The prime minister directed all the provincial governments to take comprehensive measures to protect the life and property of Hindus and other minorities and to ensure that the situation was immediately under control and no such law and order situation could be created in future.

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