Months after the lynching of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot, a mob has ransacked the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) office in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and assaulted at least one person while looking for an official accused of blasphemy.
According to reports, the incident took place on February 9 in Razar tehsil of Swabi, where a mob, consisting of at least 500 people, barged into the TMA office wielding sticks, looking for the tehsil revenue officer responsible for collecting fines and rent at local markets.
The officer had been accused of blasphemy by a former president of traders union on political grounds, a preliminary investigation conducted by the police concluded.
A police official, on the condition of anonymity, said that as soon as they were informed about the mob, the revenue officer was shifted to a safe location.
“However, another TMA official was caught by the mob while trying to escape. The vigilantes thought it was the officer they were looking for,” they said and added that police staff was also injured while rescuing the youngster mistaken for the blasphemy accused.
“The police requested the mob to let the youngster go,” the cop said.
“Due to timely intervention of the police and local clerics from different parts of the district, the attack was foiled and the life of an innocent man saved. A temporary office of deputy superintendent of police (DSP) has also been set up at the now guarded TMA establishment.”
The actual accused was later presented before clerics where he denied the allegation while reciting the Kalima (Islamic proclamation of faith), Kalu Khan Station House Officer (SHO) Ajab Durrani said.
“He explained that due to the nature of his job, he was forced to maintain strict discipline, and was only targeted in retaliation,” he added.
“The alleged officer is honest and is seen as a pious and religious person. The rescued official has also performed several Umrahs.”
On Nov 29, 2021, a charged mob attacked and set on fire a police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Charsadda district, demanding that authorities hand over a man arrested for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.
KP Law Minister Fazal Shakoor Khan, who hails from Charsadda, told reporters that police had arrested a man for allegedly desecrating the Quran and shifted him to the Mandani police station in Charsadda’s Tangi tehsil.
A mob later gathered outside the police station and demanded that officials hand over the man to them. When police denied their demand, the mob, which had grown to a sizeable number by late evening, grew agitated and attacked the police station and set it on fire. They also vandalised the vehicles parked in the police station, according to the minister.
MISUSE OF BLASPHEMY ALLEGATIONS
A new research has claimed that at least 89 persons were killed in 1,415 accusations and cases of blasphemy since modern Pakistan was formed in 1947.
The Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in a report stated that from 1947 to 2021, 18 women and 71 men were extra-judicially killed over blasphemy accusations. The allegations were made against 107 women and 1,308 men. Out of the total, 1,287 persons were accused of committing blasphemy from 2011- 21.
“The actual number is believed to be higher because not all blasphemy cases get reported in the press,” the report said, adding that more than 70 percent of the accused were reported from Punjab. The data showed that 55 cases were filed in the Islamabad Capital Territory, which was more than the cases of blasphemy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir put together.
Moreover, 1,098 cases were reported from Punjab followed by 177 from Sindh, 33 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 from Balochistan, and 11 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
For decades, minority leaders have raised concerns about the misuse of blasphemy laws, which stipulate the death sentence for insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).