Angry mob lynches man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan | News

The mob kidnapped the suspect from his prison cell and lynched him for allegedly desecrating the pages of the Quran.

Hundreds of Muslims stormed a police station in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, grabbed a blasphemy suspect from his cell, dragged him out and lynched him, police said.

Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said on Saturday that a man identified only as Waris was in police custody for desecrating pages of a copy of Islam’s holy book, the Koran. He said Waris pasted pictures of himself, his wife and a knife on several pages of a book, displayed them and threw them around in rural Nankana district.

Alpa said an angry crowd of hundreds stormed Warburton police station where some protesters used wooden ladders to climb a wall and opened the main gate to the angry crowd.

Alpa said the group searched the entire police station and took Waris out of the cell.

“By the time police reinforcements arrived at the scene, the mob was lynching the man and preparing to burn his body. But the police, with the help of more sensible people in the area, foiled their attempt,” he said.

Under Pakistani law, blasphemy charges carry the death penalty.

Pressure to change blasphemy laws

International and Pakistani human rights groups say blasphemy charges have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change its blasphemy laws, but other political forces in the country have strongly resisted.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the incident and asked the Punjab police chief to take action against the policemen who failed to protect the suspect while he was in custody.

Alpa said Waris was arrested in 2019 on a previous charge of blasphemy and was in prison until mid-2022.

He said Waris desecrated the Quran again on Saturday morning and people who saw it grabbed him and started beating him. However, the police rescued Waris and took him into custody.

Alpa said the lynching of Waris would be investigated.

Usman Anwar, the Punjab police chief, suspended the police station chief and the deputy area chief for dereliction of duty and failure to prevent the attack on the police station as well as the killing of the suspect.

In December 2021, a group lynched a Sri Lankan manager of a sports equipment factory in Punjab who they accused of blasphemy.

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