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8-yr-old Hindu boy becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pak

New Delhi, August 9

An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country, a media report said on Monday.

According to the Guardian news report, the boy's family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab province, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy's release on bail last week.

Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.

On August 7, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack.

The boy is accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, where religious books were kept, last month.

Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty, the Guardianreport said.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, a member of the boy's family told the Guardian: "He (the boy) is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn't understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.

"We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don't want to return to this area. We don't see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here." Blasphemy charges filed against a child have shocked legal experts, who say the move is unprecedented. No one this young has ever been charged with blasphemy before in Pakistan.

Although no blasphemy executions have been carried out in the country since the death penalty was introduced for the crime in 1986, suspects are often attacked and sometimes killed by mobs.

In New Delhi, India's External Affairs Ministry summoned a Pakistani diplomat to protest the attack and demand the safety of Hindu families living in the Muslim-majority country. IANS

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