Friday, July 6, 2012
Pakistan Mob Burns Man to Death for Alleged ‘Blasphemy’
Another shocking extra judicial killing
By Dan Wooding and Xavier Patras William
Special to ASSIST News Service
BAHAWALPUR, PUNJAB, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- In another shocking case of extra judicial killing in Pakistan, a man accused of blasphemy was killed by a mob outside a police station.
A mob broke into the police station and brought him outside and dragged him to the Chanighot Chakar (roundabout), where he had allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran, doused him in petrol (gasoline) and set him on fire.
According to a story by Shahzeb Jillani, BBC World Service South Asia Editor, witnesses said hundreds of people looked on as he screamed for help.
“Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law imposes the death penalty for insulting Islam, but it is rarely carried out,” said Jillani. “The area where the lynching took place is home to hundreds of madrassas - religious schools - run by radical Islamist or sectarian groups.
“Police said they detained the man after locals complained that he had desecrated the Koran. But before the allegation could be investigated, thousands of angry people surrounded the police station, police said.”
The Deputy Superintendent of Police for the Ahmedpur Bahawalpur District said, “The Chani Goth police station received a complaint that a person had burnt pages of the Quran, and the police arrested the person and brought him to the police station and put him in the lock up.”
ANS had learned that the trouble began when a group of religious leaders announced on loud speakers that the men had “committed blasphemy against Islam” which then resulted in the out-of-control mob gathering outside the police station and demanded that police had over the man.
They then blocked the main highway and broke down the gates of the police station and attacked the officers on duty, injuring the Station House Officer, Ghulam Mohiuddin Gajjar, along with his four guards.
“I also sustained a few injuries during the attack. Our 14-15 police officers were injured and were admitted in the hospital,” said the Station House Officer. “Before we could know details about the person who was arrested, the mob broke into the lockup and took out the prisoner, threw petrol [gasoline] on him and burnt him alive.
“They also torched the police vehicles in the police station, this continued for over two hours. The mob stood there until the man completely burnt to death.”
The police say that they believe that the man was “mentally unstable”, but so far have not been able to ascertain his identity.
DSP Naveed said, “We have registered the First Information Report (FIR) about the incident and will arrest the culprits soon. We are thankful to Allah that no policemen were killed in the attack.”
The charred body has been sent for autopsy and are awaiting the result and to try and learn the identity of the person who was killed. So far no one came forward to claim the body of the deceased.
This incident has raised fears amongst the minority population of Pakistan of more extra judicial killing for those accused of blasphemy, or those who help the blasphemy-accused.
The Masihi Foundation Pakistan and Life for All Pakistan have both strongly condemned the incident.
In a statement, they said, “Religion should be kept separate from the state affairs, and burning a man alive is an inhuman act. The police has failed to take action against the people responsible and the law was abused by the mob.
“There is no justification for this barbaric act. The authorities must act and take action against such lawlessness. No one is above the law, and there is no justification in killing a human being. It is for the judicial system to decide whether a person is guilty or not.”
The statement added, “It is time to put an end of the law of the jungle. Laws are made to protect men from other men, not to protect God from humans. We urge the Chief Justice to take notice of the incident and take action against the people involved in the incident. He must ensure the rule of the law in the Country.”
The Bahawalpur Catholic Diocese has also condemned the incident. Father Zafar Samuel from Bahawalpur said, “This is a sad incident and we condemn it. This is an inhuman act. There is a strong need to spread awareness regarding blasphemy and the laws associated with it. These naive people have no idea what it’s all about.”
The Bishop of Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Rufin Anthony, said, “We strongly condemn the attack on the police station and the loss of a human life. The law enforcing agencies must act and ensure the rule of the law. Taking the law in one’s own hands is against the law. It is time for some changes in the legislation, so that it will protect innocent lives and ensure the safety of the people accused and under trial.
“How much more blood do we have to have shed for the authorities to realize that it is time to act.”
According to media reports, Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday expressed “profound grief and shock” over the burning of the man. Expressing shock, the president directed the adviser on interior to conduct an inquiry into the unfortunate incident and immediately submit the report to him.
He said that no one should be allowed to take law into in his own hand no matter what the crime is. He also directed the authorities concerned to dispense justice in the case according to the law.
Xavier Patras William is an international journalist and human rights activist. He is the Regional Director of “Life for All” in Islamabad, Pakistan, which is an organization is working for human rights and the education of the Christians in Pakistan. The head office of “Life for All” is in Lahore, Pakistan and its regional office is located in Islamabad. Xavier can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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