THARPARKAR/KARACHI - Unidentified men on Monday attacked a Hindu ashram and stole a ‘trishul’ in Tharparkar district of Sindh, triggering protests and partial shutdown of businesses in several cities.

The violators also desecrated parrh (a piece of cloth wrapped around the idol) at Faqir Par Braham's ashram in Tharparkar, a Hindu majority area.

The Hindu community came out on streets in all the towns of the district and also staged a sit-in at Mithi's Kashmir Chowk. Markets in Deplo, Islamkot and Chachro towns were shut in protest.

"The Hindu community is being targeted in all parts of Sindh under a conspiracy," Raja Bhawan of Tharparkar's Hindu panchayat, who led the protesters, was quoted as saying by Express Tribune daily. "We want the government to expose hands behind this," he added.

Tharparkar SSP Muneer Shaikh said police had arrested four suspects and the stolen 'trishul' had been recovered.

An FIR has been lodged on the complaint of one Seth Jhaman Das.

The incident came just two days after a temple of Hindu deity Hanuman was desecrated in Hyderabad where police have arrested 12 suspects for interrogation.

Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan but make up only about two per cent of the country's 180 million population.

Separately, minority Hindu community on Monday held a demonstration organised by Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) to register their protest over the attacks on temples and act of provocation against their community in various parts of Sindh.

They demanded of the provincial government to provide security to their temples across the province.

Participants including women and children holding placards raised slogans against authorities concerned which failed to safeguard the religious places of minority community.

PHC president Chaila Raam Chiblani addressing the protesters said government should make sure of serving justice to the people and providing security to all minorities including the Hindu community.

He said Hindus were also sons of that soil and unjust acts against their community must be ended. He said during the recent attacks various Hindu temples in Sindh were damaged including Dharamshala in Larkana, Kalimata Mandir Hyderabad, Shiv Bhulai Nath, Hanuman and some others.

On the occasion, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA Lal Chand, while condemning the incidents, said some elements were carrying out such arson attacks on the religious places of the minority to create hatred between the religious communities.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) on Monday issued a statement terming the issue a conspiracy to create hatred between Muslims and Non-Muslims populace of the Sindh province. JUI-F Sindh chapter leaders including party sectary general Allama Khalid Mehmood Somroo, sectary information Mohammad Aslam Ghouri and others in their joint statement said recent attacks on temples in Larkana, Hyderabad and Diplo were the part of a conspiracy to trigger communal riots. They said provincial government bitterly failed to protect religious minorities. JUI-F leaders urged the rulers to safeguard all religious places and arrest the elements responsible for destroying the communal harmony in the province.

They further said JUI-F expressed solidarity with the minority Hindu community in recent critical situation while party had always raised voice for the protection and rights of all minorities.

They directed the party workers to keep eye on the elements attempting to fan flames of communal violence.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah has termed the recent attacks on temples in different cities and theft of a statue from Deplo temple in Tharparkar as conspiracy to trigger communal riots in the province.

In a statement, he strictly condemned the theft of a statue, some other sacred objects from a Hindu shrine near Mithi and attempt to desecrate the Hindu worship places. He termed these attempts as conspiracy to trigger communal riots in the province. He said some anti-state elements, who did not want peace, tolerance and brotherhood among the people were behind this conspiracy.

The chief minister vowed that the government would not allow anyone to pitch any segment of society against other by creating religious or ethnic issues between them. The chief minister said that each minority should enjoy all rights equally to other people in the province.

He asked the Sindh government to provide complete protection to minorities’ worship places and their business in the province.

He directed the inspector general of Sindh police to put entire intelligence network at his disposal in the field and unearth the conspirators behind this heinous crime and take strict and exemplary action against this gang of criminals and their supporters.

Qaim also directed all the DIGs, SSPs and district administration in Sindh to be vigilant and ensure foolproof security at all worship places of minorities.

CM Sindh, expressing solidarity with all minorities especially with Hindu community, assured that their rights would be protected at any cost as per Constitution. He said a big number of minority people supported PPP and the party would not leave them in lurch.