A day after the lynching of a mentally ill person over blasphemy allegation in Khanewal district’s Mian Channu tehsil, a violent mob attacked and injured a man for allegedly burning the pages of the holy Quran in Faisalabad’s Tandlianwala area on Feb 13.
On Sunday, a mob carrying clubs, bricks and other hard objects surrounded the house of the accused and attacked him.
Already alerted, the police rescued the man and shifted him to an undisclosed location, said the inspector general of Punjab police. The police have also transported family members of the man to another area for safety reasons.
Police officers in the district were trying to engage religious leaders of all sects to ensure peace in the area, the IGP said.
“We received an emergency call at 15 at about 5.30pm on Sunday that a Shia scholar had defiled the holy Quran,” said Faisalabad SSP Operations Mubashar Maikan. He said the police patrolling team responded instantly and rescued him.
“The person seems to be abnormal,” he said, adding that he was evacuated from that place and shifted to a safe location.
It was the third mob attack incident related to alleged blasphemy that took place in Punjab in nine weeks. On Dec 3, a mob killed a Sri Lankan citizen and burnt his body.
READ MORE: ‘Mentally ill’ blasphemy convict set free after 10 years
The province has seen two deaths related to mob lynching in the past two months. The second lynching took place in Mian Channu just a day ago (on Saturday).
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while reacting to the incident, reiterated that the government had “zero tolerance” for anyone taking the law into their own hands.
We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands & mob lynchings will be dealt with full severity of the law. Have asked Punjab IG for report on action taken against perpetrators of the lynching in MIan Channu & against the police who failed in their duty.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 13, 2022
“Mob lynching incidents will be dealt with strictly under the law,” the premier tweeted Sunday.
He added that he had sought a report from the Punjab IGP on the progress of action against the culprits and cops who had failed to maintain law and order.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands & mob lynchings will be dealt with the full severity of the law. [The govt] has asked Punjab IGP for a report on action taken against perpetrators of the lynching in Mian Channu & against the police who failed in their duty,” he wrote.
READ MORE: ‘Save Aneeqa’ or ‘Hang Aneeqa’? Pakistanis divided on death sentence for 26yo blasphemy convict
on February 9, a mob 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 Feb 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).