20 arrested over attack on Indian fisherman in Pakistan

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A woman is hit by a stone as others rush to her rescue. Police in Pakistan say they have arrested 20 people following the mob killing of an…

20 arrested over attack on Indian fisherman in Pakistan

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A woman is hit by a stone as others rush to her rescue.

Police in Pakistan say they have arrested 20 people following the mob killing of an Indian fishermen in the country’s south-western province of Balochistan.

A mob threw stones and beat a Sri Lankan man to death after catching him fishing off the shore.

Police say the attackers believed he was a Hindu, which is illegal in Pakistan, though there are thousands of Hindus living in the area.

South Asian fishermen routinely face religious discrimination at sea. In some parts of Pakistan and India fishermen regularly encounter rocks, bottles and other attacks.

Many of those involved in Wednesday’s attack said they had found evidence on the fisherman that he was a Hindu, but other villagers insisted he was a Muslim.

Some of the people arrested may have been students, police said.

In 2010, 23 Pakistani fishermen were killed by a mob who mistook them for Indian fishermen after the two countries’ navies exchanged fire in the Arabian Sea.

A 2015 report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch found at least 10 people had been killed in a similar incident the previous year.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Other men gather at the site of the attack, which took place off the Pakistani port city of Gwadar

“Following the killing of an Indian fisherman in Balochistan, 20 people have been arrested,” Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, chief minister of Balochistan province, said in a statement.

“The human rights commission [of Pakistan] has been asked to identify the people and take legal action against them.

“The prime minister has also assured us to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future. It is unfortunate that an innocent man was killed,” he added.

‘Happy you are Muslim’

Chanda Vatsa, president of a local transport association, told the Associated Press news agency that the man had been found guilty of violating the terms of a local fishing quota.

“He had been caught by a local fisherman fishing off the Iranian and Balochistan coasts, which is illegal, but he had assured the owner he would pay for the fine,” he said.

As reported by the Associated Press news agency, one young man asked the owner of the fishing net: “I am fishing here and I am happy you are Muslim,” before the mob launched a revenge attack.

“I paid for the fine, but it was not enough for them, and now I am killed,” the victim told AFP news agency.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Members of the mob gathered around the fisherman, screaming “he is a Hindu!”

Members of the mob thrashed him with sticks, throwing stones at him.

A senior police official in Gwadar – the nearest major town to the spot – told AFP news agency that police had to call for reinforcements to break up the attack.

“The killing of the Indian was a result of a love triangle gone wrong,” Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari said.

There are an estimated 3 million ethnic Indians in Pakistan, though many Pakistanis find it difficult to identify as Hindu.

Sri Lanka-Pakistan tensions

There were angry scenes on the streets of Karachi, Karachi’s largest city, where some protesters hurled bottles and stones.

The owner of the fishing net, himself a Pakistani man, was attacked by some local residents.

His two sons were also attacked as the community’s anger grew.

“In Karachi we still have this great saying that ‘Ganj-e-Thulak, ganj-e-Khaath, ganj-e-Khaath’,” a critic told AFP news agency.

“The family who gets harmed will also give a reward to the group which kills them.”

The incident took place some 600km (375 miles) south of the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Sri Lanka accuses Pakistan of illegally fishing in its waters.

The Sri Lankan government says it doesn’t want to upset Pakistan, but that it cannot allow fishermen from Pakistan to legally approach its waters.

Officials in Pakistan have accused Sri Lanka of human rights abuses, saying that fishing vessels bring disease into the Indian Ocean and pollute the water with the illegally collected fish.

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