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Religious tension in Pakistan as Muslims dig up Hindu grave

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A crowd of Islamic fundamentalists dug up the grave of a Hindu man in Pakistan, police said on Tuesday, in the latest sign of growing religious tension in the increasingly unstable province of Sindh.

Shouting "Allahu Akbar", or "God is greatest", the crowd dug out the body and dragged it through the streets of the southern town of Pangrio in a dispute over the location of the grave.

"Tensions are still running high, but we are in control of the situation," district police chief Shaukat Ali Khatian said.

"The incident was caused by some clerics of the extremist outfit of Ahle Sunaat Wal Jamaat, but later other Muslims joined in and dug up the body and threw it away."

Hindus and Muslims have lived side by side and shared graveyards in Sindh for centuries, but tension has been on the rise recently as extremists make increasingly aggressive inroads into the rural parts of the province.

Sindh is home to most of Pakistan's small Hindu community, which numbers about 2 million among a population of roughly 180 million.

Pakistan's rocky relationship with neighboring India, a predominantly Hindu country, has fed tension between the two communities in smaller towns, such as Pangrio.

The Hindu man, Bhoro Bheel, 30, had died in a road accident and was buried on Saturday, in line with caste tradition. The subsequent desecration sparked demonstrations and forced police to step up street patrols.

"Even our dead are not safe anymore in their graves," Narayan Das Bheel, a member of the Hindu community, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Clarence Fernandez)

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