A mentally challenged man was tortured to death and his body hanged from a tree on Saturday night by a violent mob in Khanewal district of Punjab province over alleged blasphemy.
Sources said that the incident took place in Talumba village in Mian Channu tehsil of Khanewal district. They claimed that the victim, whose identity could not be immediately known, was a Muslim by faith and had allegedly burnt pages of the holy Quran.
They added that soon after news spread of the alleged blasphemy, the local police reportedly allowed the accused to leave the police station. The victim was dragged to a nearby place, tortured and killed whereas the police allegedly played the role of silent spectator. The mob later hanged the victim’s dead body from a tree, sources said.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice of the incident and ordered the Inspector General of Punjab Police to submit a report after conducting a thorough investigation.
According to a police spokesman, IG Punjab Rao Sardar Ali Khan has sought a report from Additional IG South Punjab over the incident. He also directed RPO Multan to conduct an inquiry in this regard and ordered DPO Khanewal to reach the location as soon as possible.
The IG Punjab said that those behind the tragic incident would be brought to justice, according to the spokesman.
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The tragic killing comes weeks after a Sri Lankan national, Priyantha Kumara, was lynched by a mob over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot.
On Feb 9, a mob ransacked the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) office in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province 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.
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
According to a recent research, 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).