Thursday, July 05, 2012

Another victim in the name of "blasphemy"

by Salman Hameed

The combination of weak law & order and a dubiously inflammatory law has once again claimed a life in Pakistan. While Ahmadis in Pakistan are a constant target, accusations of blasphemy provides a broader free-for-all target. In fact, things can turn deadly even for the defenders of the accused - as was evidence in the assassination of the powerful governor of Punjab, followed by the hideous celebrations of the killer by some.

Now we have the case of a deranged man, burnt to death by a mob in Bahawalpur. He was accused of throwing pages from the Quran on the street. He was arrested by the police, but that wasn't enough for some. They raided the police station, grabbed the accused man, dragged him to a chowk (roundabout), and burnt him to death. That's it. To their credit, the cops tried to protect the guy, but could not control the crowd. Several of them got injured and their efforts to stand up provides a glimmer of hope.

This has nothing to do with Islam (such a mob justice, I don't think is part of any religion). This is medieval justice. But then perhaps, this is the deserved justice when minorities like the Ahmadis are institutionally discriminated and targeted simply on the basis of their religious beliefs. Until such discrimination ends and the blasphemy law is reined in, the mob will always be in charge of religiously-charged justice.

There is nothing much to say here except that this is just so sad to hear about this in this day and age. Here is the news item about the Bahawalpur incident:

The incident took place in Chanighot area of Bahawalpur on Tuesday evening. Residents saw a man allegedly throwing pages from the Holy Quran onto the street. Local police took him into custody and put him in the lockup. 
The news spread like a forest fire in the neighbourhood – and soon a frenzied mob gathered outside the Chanighot police station baying for blood. 
Police couldn’t stand up to the furious and violent crowd who got hold of the alleged blasphemer, described by one police official as deranged, and brutally tortured him. 
Some officers fired tear gas canisters to disperse the mob – but the emotionally charged people refused to hand over the alleged blasphemer and instead turned against the police officers, according to Ghulam Mohiuddin Gujjar, the station house officer (SHO) of Chanighot police station. 
Nine police officers, including SHO Gujjar and DSP Rana Naveed Mumtaz, were injured while trying – though unsuccessfully – to rescue the man. 
The mob burnt down several police vehicles, including DSP Mumtaz’s four-wheeler, before getting hold of the man, who has not been identified. 
Once the unidentified man was in the mob’s custody, he was dragged to the Chanighot Chakar (roundabout), where he had allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran, doused him in petrol and set him on fire.
Not much to add here. But also see earlier posts:
Students expelled in Pakistan for their religion
Religious discrimination fueled by Pakistan's education system
Will we see a reaction from the educated middle-class against blasphemy law in Pakistan?


Anonymous said...

Our society discovered a newer depth. How low can we go further?

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