Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hindus rally for Muslim charity

Pro-charity protesters in Hyderabad
The protesters say the charity has helped them

Hundreds of members of Pakistan's Hindu community have turned out to protest on behalf of a Muslim charity accused by India over the deadly Mumbai attacks.

The protesters in the city of Hyderabad in Sindh province complained that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not a terrorist organisation and should not be banned.

They said it was a "saviour" in providing food and water.

India says Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba which it blames for the attacks that killed more than 170.

Water wells

Many in Pakistan's minority Hindu community are poor farm workers.

One protester, Biga Ram, told Reuters news agency: "How can an organisation be terrorist if it's been providing food and water to us despite knowing that we're not Muslims?"

She added: "They're friends of humanity. We condemn the ban. It's unjust."

Some of the banners read: "Do not ban our saviour!"

Bhai Chand, a Hindu community leader, told Associated Press the charity had set up water wells in the desert.

It is not quite clear, though, how the demonstration was actually organised.

Some of the participants told the BBC's Ali Hasan in Hyderabad that they had been brought to the city to protest against price rises.

But on reaching Hyderabad, they were handed banners in support of Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

According to our correspondent, most of the women seemed to be under the impression that they were there to demonstrate against the price rises, while some of the men said they had come to show their support for Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Last week, Pakistan formally banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which has been put on a blacklist by the UN Security Council.

Its bank accounts have been frozen by the Pakistani government and a number of members detained.

India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, for training the Mumbai attackers. The group and the Pakistani government deny involvement.

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