Mob storms police station, lynches blasphemy accused in Nankana district

    In a ghastly incident in Punjab’s Nankana Sahib district, a violent mob on Saturday burned a man to death after dragging him outside of a police station on allegations of blasphemy.

    The accused, identified as 35-year-old Waris, was in the custody of the Warburton police when the frenzied mob stormed the police station and dragged him out of the lockup. Sources said the mob first tortured the accused and later set his body on fire.

    “The policemen deployed at the station, including the station house officer, fled, leaving the accused in the hands of the mob.

    “The accused had recently been released from prison after serving a two-year sentence. Residents of the area claim that the man used to practice witchcraft by pasting his ex-wife’s picture on holy papers,” the sources said.

    Mobile footage of the incident shows the violent mob scaling the large gates of the police station, and opening it, after which a large crowd outside storms the building.

    Another video shows young children — purportedly part of the mob — smiling inside the police station, as broken glass and overturned furniture could be seen strewn about.

    Taking notice of the incident, Punjab’s interim Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi has ordered the Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar to submit a detailed investigation report.

    Meanwhile, the IG has suspended Nankana Sahib Deputy Superintendent of Police Nawaz Virk and Warburton police Station House Officer Feroze Bhatti.

    The IGP has also formed an inquiry committee comprising Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Internal Accountability Branch, Ameen Bukhari and DIG Special Branch Raja Faisal.

    “No one is allowed to take the law into their hands no matter how influential they are,” the IG Punjab was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

    “Strict departmental and legal action will be taken against those responsible for the incident and the perpetrators of negligence and negligence.”

    Condemning the incident, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said the mob had committed a cruel and criminal act.

    “It is the responsibility of the Punjab government to take immediate action against all those involved and try their cases in anti-terrorism courts.

    “No group or individual has the right to take the law into their hands. Islamic Shariah and the law of Pakistan do not allow anyone to assume the role of judge, jury and executioner by themselves,” he said.

    Church of Pakistan Moderator Bishop Dr Azad Marshall also condemned the lynching in Nankana district over blasphemy allegations.

    “Such barbaric incidents continue to damage Pakistan’s name in the world but unfortunately our State has failed to stop this violence carried out in the name of religion,” he told Kross Konnection.

    The senior church leader said that they had repeatedly urged the government to legislate against the misuse of the blasphemy laws but their pleas had failed to move the officials.

    “Only a strong deterrent against false accusations and ensuring a proper procedure in the registration and investigation of blasphemy allegations can curb this insanity and violence,” he said.


    Mob killings over accusations of blasphemy – a crime that can carry the death sentence – are fairly frequent in Pakistan, home to 200 million people, mostly Muslims.

    Mobs have lynched at least two people and injured two others in four cities of Pakistan between December 2021 and March 2022.

    Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara, 48, was accused of committing blasphemy at the factory he managed in Sialkot and was beaten to death by a mob in December 2021 whereas a mentally challenged person, Mushtaq Ahmad, was in February 2022 stoned to death by an enraged mod after the son of a local cleric accused him of burning pages of the Quran in Khanewal.

    The continuous rise in incidents of violence over unproven blasphemy allegations has time and again prompted Ulemas to vociferously condemn such practices and declare the killing of any person under such circumstances as un-Islamic.

    Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy can often be wielded to settle personal vendettas, with minorities largely the target.

    According to a research, at least 89 persons were killed in 1,415 accusations and cases of blasphemy since 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 (KP) and Azad Kashmir put together.

    Moreover, 1,098 cases were reported from Punjab followed by 177 from Sindh, 33 from KP, 12 from Balochistan, and 11 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

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