After the brutal mob lynching of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana in Sialkot, Pakistan’s Punjab province saw yet another ‘blasphemy’ lynching, this time near a mosque/madrassa in Talumba, Mian Channu tehsil, Khanewal district.
An angry mob killed a man accusing him of ‘committing desecration of sacred papers’ in the madrassa, last Saturday.
The mentally unstable man accused of ‘blasphemy’ was tortured to death with sticks and bricks as per The Friday Times. He was dragged by the crowd when he came out of the police station where he was kept. The mob beat up the man and eventually killed him while the police could do nothing to stop the attackers. Eyewitnesses told media that the victim was not mentally stable.
Police took the body and has started investigating the incident. A case has been registered against 300 people, including 33 prime suspects. Many suspects have reportedly been arrested. Although PM Imran Khan has spoken of a ‘zero tolerance policy’, no action was taken against any official of the Tulamba police station as per Dawn.
The deceased was described by his brother as a middle-aged man suffering from mental illness. His brother told Dawn that the man had been living in Karachi until last month, and had been hospitalized at various points throughout his 17 year battle with mental illness.
“Last day he went to buy some cigarettes and did not turn up till evening and they later learned that he was killed on blasphemy charges,” the brother was quoted as saying.
A few days back, Hindu physics teacher Nautan (Notan) Lal was sentenced to life for ‘blasphemy’ and fined PKR 50,000 in Ghotki, Sindh. He had been accused of ‘blasphemy’ by a first-year Intermediate student in 2019 and had been in jail ever since, being twice denied bail.
An anti-Hindu pogrom had erupted after the accusation against Notan, during which Hindu temples and homes were damaged. Lal was taken into “protective custody” and an investigation launched. Blasphemy charges are very often used in Pakistan to settle personal scores or intimidate minorities- some other victims being Ramesh Kumar, Asia Bibi, Prakash Kumar. But the real reason for the allegation against Notan is suspected to be far more sinister.
Sindhi social activist said that Notan was targeted because when 11-year-old Monika was abducted from Hala, Sindh it was none other than this Notan who gave refuge to her and her family (the girl was one of the rare few reunited with her parents after a court ruling). The notorious Maulvi Mian Mithu, head of the Sufi Bharchundi dargah, who has terrorized Hindus in the area by promoting abduction and forced conversion of minor girls, was seen leading and inciting the mob that attacked Hindus after the blasphemy charge was levelled at Notan.
In January, an anti-cybercrime court in Rawalpindi sentenced a woman to death on charges of sending ‘blasphemous’ material over WhatsApp. She has been fined 150,000 PKR as well.
As this article says –
To be accused of blasphemy in Pakistan is a condemnation to years of harassment at its best—and a death sentence at its worst. The accused is trapped within a Kafkaesque legal system that, in a misguided attempt at keeping them safe, ties them up in its bureaucracy, holding them behind bars to protect them from the mob waiting to carry out vigilante justice upon their release. No prescribed death sentence has yet to be carried out officially by the courts. And yet, ironically, that does not diminish the risk of death for the accused.
Since the law’s passage in 1987, there have been over 1500 identifiable cases of individuals charged with blasphemy. Within that same period, there were dozens of extra-judicial murders of individuals accused of blasphemy, carried out either by mobs or individual extremists. With the rare exception, those who engage in vigilante justice and are emboldened by the law, do not face any consequences.
The same ‘blasphemy’ madness can be seen in Bangladesh where Hindus were subjected to a horrific pogrom during last year’s Durga Puja festival after a Muslim man deliberately placed a Quran at the feet of a Sri Hanuman murti kept in a pandal. Unfortunately, even Punjab seems to be getting infected with this disease with at least 4 men being lynched in the last 8 months over allegations of sacrilege of Sikh holy texts.