In Pakistan, an eight-year-old Hindu boy has been charged with blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. The boy was accused of urinating on the carpet of a Madarsa, where he had spent a week in jail before receiving bail. He has been placed under ‘protective custody’ following the incident. Fearing retribution, the family had gone into hiding.
According to a family member who spoke to The Guardian from an undisclosed location: ‘He [the boy] does not even know about these blasphemy issues and has been falsely implicated in them. He does not understand why he was jailed for a week and what his crime was. We have closed our shops and left work, the whole community is afraid and we fear backlash. We don’t want to go back to this area. It is apparent that no concrete or meaningful action is being taken against the culprits or to protect minorities living here,’ he added.
Ramesh Kumar, head of the Pakistani Hindu Council, said, ‘The attack on the temple and blasphemy allegations against the eight-year-old minor really shocked me. More than a hundred homes of the Hindu community have been evacuated due to fear of attack’. Hindu activist Kapil Dev says the charges should be dropped immediately, and the government should provide security to the boy’s family and those forced to flee. Attacks on Hindu temples have increased recently, and these recent incidents seem like a new wave of persecution.
According to reports, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha was attacked on August 4th by a mob of Pakistani Muslim men in the city of Bhong in the district of Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab Province. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, posted videos of the temple attack on Twitter and urged the authorities to stop the ‘burning and vandalizing’ of the temple.
According to the mob, the attack was a revenge for the eight-year-old boy urinating near the Madarsa. Even though the 8-year-old boy was arrested and booked under Pakistan’s brutal blasphemy laws, he was released on bail for being underage. In response, 22 religious and political parties in Pakistan refused to condemn the attack on the Hindu temple.