An octogenarian Hindu spiritual leader was kidnapped along with his companions in Pakistan's Balochistan province, sparking angry protests from the community members across the state.
Maharaja Luckmi Chand Garji, 82, was kidnapped with four companions Sajan Das, Ram Chand, Babo Lal and Venod Kumar late on Tuesday night on RCD Highway near Surab in Kalat district, the Daily Times newspaper reported.
The kidnappers later released three of the men at a deserted spot. The whereabouts of Garji and Kumar, the son of a trader, are not known, the paper said.
The minority Hindu community organised protests in Khuzdar, Kalat, Naushki and provincial capital Quetta and blocked the National Highway and RCD Highway on Wednesday.
Addressing protesters at the Khuzdar Press Club, Hindu leaders said the government had failed to protect the life and property of the people, particularly the minorities.
The Hindu Panchayat organised a protest outside the Quetta Press Club and demanded the recovery of the kidnapped spiritual leader. It also organised took out a rally from the Arya Samaj Mandir and marched through Jinnah Road, Masjid Road, Shahra-e-Iqbal and Manan Chowk in Quetta.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has taken notice of the kidnapping and asked authorities to ensure the safe recovery of Garji.
Sajan Das, one of the men released by the kidnappers, told mediapersons, "Five armed men in a vehicle were chasing us and intercepted us when they got an opportunity near Surab, about 100 kilometres from Kalat."
Garji and his companions were on their way to Khuzdar to attend a marriage, Sajan Das said. The kidnappers blindfolded and tied the hands of three men before freeing them near a mountain, he said.
Hindu community leaders said incidents of kidnapping had become a routine and it appeared as if highwaymen and kidnappers had been given a "free hand". They alleged that police and other law enforcement agencies were patronising kidnappers.