A Hindu dharamshala adjacent to a temple at Jinnah Bagh in Larkana in Sindh province was set on fire on Saturday night sparking off tension in the area. A senior police officer from Larkana told The Hindu on the phone that a group of people had gathered outside the home of a Hindu person suspected of burning the Holy Koran and police had to use force to disperse the mob. They then went to the dharamshala and set it on fire. The fire brigade was called and things were under control but the group went to the bazaar and created trouble.

The police and Rangers were called in to defuse the situation. A room in the temple adjacent to the dharamshala was damaged and the government is rebuilding it as a priority, he said. The police took the man, Sangeet Kumar, into safe custody and have yet to question him. A special investigation team has been formed to conduct the probe and if the man is found to be guilty of burning pages of the Holy Koran, he will be charged. While three persons have been arrested for vandalism, the police said that two members each from the Hindu and Muslim community will act as observers for the investigation.

The police did not confirm news reports which said that he was a drug addict and had moved into the house recently. The pages of the burnt Koran were found in the garbage outside his house and some people saw this. An incensed mob gathered outside his house and police had to fire in the air and use teargas.

Larkana observed a shutdown on Sunday in protest as also other areas in Sindh. Shops were burnt in the bazaar last night and the tension had spread to other parts of the province. Transport services were also suspended. On Sunday the police organized a meeting with religious leaders and people's representatives from both communities. Leaders said that Islam doesn't allow for violence or intolerance and this was the work of some mischievous people. Hindu community leaders said if the suspect was guilty he should be punished.

Police said the situation was tense but under control. They also requested the Hindu community to celebrate the Holi festival and police escorted them to the dharamshala. Meanwhile Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif has asked the Sindh government to take steps to protect minorities. He expressed profound grief over the incident. It was the government's responsibility to protect minorities, he said.