Law enforcement officials in Pakistan recently arrested a Muslim man under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws for selling footwear with sacred Hindu symbols. The seller, Jahanzaib Khaskhili, was arrested in Tando Adam, Sindh Province, following which his products, carrying the ‘Om’ symbol, were confiscated.
Hindu leaders in the country called for the shopkeeper to be punished.
“The state must play a proactive role in punishing the culprits under the blasphemy laws,” said Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, patron of Pakistani Hindu Council.
If convicted, Khaskhili could face a maximum of 10 years in prison as well as a hefty fine.
Farukh Ali, district police chief, said however that the shopkeeper had fully cooperated with his department officials and it did not appear like he had set out to hurt the religious sentiment of Hindus.
“We will do this according to law, but prima facie it seems that he did not have any intention,” said Ali. “The responsibility in this case will be with the people who actually manufactured the shoes ... they would probably have done it intentionally.”
Police officials are now investigating who supplied the shoes to Khaskhili. They were told the supplier lives in Punjab Province.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make it a crime for any individual to insult any religion. Certain sections of its penal code specially address crimes such as defiling the Koran or insulting Prophet Mohammad, which carry punishments like life sentence and mandatory death sentence respectively.
Tando Adam is located approximately 200 kilometers northeast of Karachi, where the majority of Pakistan’s three million Hindus reside.
Photo Credits: All About Hinduism