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Pakistani Court Sentences Hindu Teacher To Life For 'Blasphemy'

People hold candles in front of a portrait of the Sri Lankan worker who was lynched by a mob over allegations of blasphemy in Lahore in December.

A court in Pakistan's Sindh Province has sentenced a Hindu college teacher to life in prison on blasphemy charges and also fined him $300.

Nautan Lal was arrested in September 2019 after a video went viral on social media in which a student alleged that the Hindu teacher had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

The student claimed he witnessed Lal's committing blasphemy, and shortly after the video went viral a local Muslim cleric filed a complaint with the police against Lal under the blasphemy act.

A cousin of Lal told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on February 9 that there was no eyewitness account other than that of the accuser.

The cousin said the Hindu community is facing threats and lives in fear among the majority-Muslim population of the region.

Local Hindu lawmaker Ramesh Kumar said the court reached the sentence under pressure from the local Muslim majority and vowed to appeal it.

"We will request the higher court to thoroughly investigate the case," Kumar told Radio Mashaal.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where insulting Islam is punishable by death and unproven allegations can lead to those accused being gunned down, burned alive, or bludgeoned to death.

In December, a mob beat a Sri Lankan man to death and burned his body over allegations of blasphemy in a town in Punjab Province.

Although no one has been executed over blasphemy charges, critics say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are unevenly applied and frequently abused to settle personal disputes.

With reporting by and