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Pakistan lynching over ‘blasphemy’ claims

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ISLAMABAD: An enraged mob burnt to death a local tourist in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat district late Thursday over blasphemy allegations after grabbing him from custody inside a police station and dragged his body through town before hanging it at a bus station.
According to eyewitnesses, some people in Swat’s popular tourist destination of Madyan had alleged that the suspect, Muhammad Ismail of Sialkot in Punjab, had desecrated a copy of the Holy Quran while staying at a hotel in the town.
As word spread, law enforcers took the suspect into custody and shifted him to a nearby police station. The arrest was later announced from mosques’ loudspeakers, prompting dozens to gather outside the police station baying for his blood.
On police’s refusal to hand over the suspect, an exchange of fire took place between the charged crowd and the law enforcers, leaving eight cops injured. The mob eventually stormed into the police station and snatched the man. Social media videos showed a mob circling a body on fire in the middle of a road.
Later, the mob dragged the body to the bus station in a busy market and hanged it. They also torched the police station and its vehicles. The cops fled.
Blasphemy constitutes an incendiary charge in Pakistan, where mere accusations can lead to mob violence. Last month, police saved a Christian man under attack in Punjab’s Sargodha on allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran. He, however, died nine days later from his injuries. In 2022, a man was stoned to death over similar allegations in Punjab’s Khanewal district.





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