Hindu vet arrested in blasphemy case after riots in southern Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (DPA) - Pakistani authorities have arrested a Hindu veterinary doctor over allegations of blasphemy in yet another case that has sparked protests and rioting, this time in the southern province of Sindh.

Police in Mirpur Khas district arrested the vet after receiving a complaint that he was selling medicine wrapped in paper featuring Islamic religious text. The vet said it happened by mistake, according to police.

"We have arrested the Hindu veterinary doctor over allegations of blasphemy but he denies the charges," Javed Ahmad Baloch, a senior police officer from the district, told dpa on Wednesday (May 29).

The news sparked riots in Phuladiyon, a small town in Mirpur Khas district with a Hindu majority, where an angry crowd set fire to the vet's clinic and looted shops owned by the Hindu community.

Officer Baloch said that a timely response by the police helped maintain law and order. At least seven people linked to the riots and vandalism have been arrested, he added.

The police officer said that a case of defiling the Quran has been registered against the vet.

If proven guilty, the accused could face life imprisonment.

Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in Pakistan and those accused can become the targets of Muslim vigilante groups.

In some cases, they have been gunned down, burned alive or bludgeoned to death.

Dozens of cases are registered every year, some of which spark riots and even an international outcry.

A Christian woman, Asia Bibi, spent almost a decade on death row on a blasphemy charge that was dropped by the Supreme Court in 2018.

Her case galvanised hardline Islamists, who staged massive protests against her release.