Man accused of blasphemy stoned to death by mob in Pakistan, 62 held
A man was stoned to death and his body hung from a tree by a mob for allegedly desecrating a religious book in a remote village in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Police said on Sunday, a gruesome incident that has sparked nationwide outrage.
The incident took place in Jungle Derawala village, in Khanewal district, situated 275-km from Lahore on Saturday evening, where locals had gathered after their Maghrib (evening) prayers, following announcements that a man had torn pages of the Holy Quran and had set them on fire.
The Police had arrived in the village before the incident, but the mob had outnumbered them.
They seized the victim from the SHO’s custody and tied him to a tree, after which he was lynched to death, eyewitnesses said.
“Over 300 men had gathered at Masjid Shahmuqeem Muaza in Jungle Derawala village, where they tied a middle-aged man with a rope before stoning him to death. Later, they hung his body on a tree,” police officer Muhammad Amin told PTI.
He said two policemen, who tried to bring the body down from the tree, were injured when a mob began throwing stones at them.
“Police tried to take the injured man into custody, but we were outnumbered by the mob, and they killed him. They chanted religious slogans and attacked the two policemen who tried to bring the victim’s body down from the tree. Once fresh reinforcements arrived in the village, they shifted the body to a mortuary,” Amin said.
According to BBC Urdu service, the victim was identified as Mushtaq Ahmed (son of Bashir Ahmed), who was a resident of Bara Chak village.
The villagers said that the victim was mentally unstable and stayed out of the house for several days.
A number of videos have surfaced on social media in which the enraged mob can be seen torturing the man and hanging his body on the tree. Some had even tried to burn his body, according to the videos that are circulating online.
Punjab Inspector General of Police Rao Sardar Ali Khan submitted a preliminary report of the incident to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. According to the report, a case was registered against 33 suspects and 300 unknown persons while sections related to heinous crimes and terrorism were also added.
Chief Minister Buzdar has issued directives that all requirements of justice must be met and said no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed anguish over the incident and said the culprits involved in the lynching will be “dealt with (the) full severity of the law” along with police officials who “failed in their duty”.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands and mob lynching will be dealt with the full severity of the law,” he tweeted a day after the incident. Khan said he has sought a report from the Punjab police chief on the actions taken against perpetrators of the lynching.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said he had “repeatedly pointed out” the destructive extremist elements present in the education system.
The brutal incident comes a little over two months after a Sri Lankan executive of a garment factory was lynched and his body torched by angry supporters of a hardline Islamist party that attacked the facility in Pakistan’s Punjab province over blasphemy allegations. -INDIAN EXPRESS