Alleged blasphemer in Pak ‘burnt to death’ by mob in front of police

KARACHI — A mob in southern Pakistan stormed a police station to seize a mentally unstable Muslim man accused of burning a copy of Islam’s holy book, beat him to death, and then set his body afire, police said Saturday.

The case is likely to raise further concerns about the country’s harsh blasphemy laws, which can result in a death sentence or life in prison to anyone found guilty. Critics say an accusation or investigation alone can lead to deaths, as people take the law into their own hands and kill those accused of violating it. Police stations and even courts have been attacked by mobs.

Local police official Bihar-ud-Din said police arrested the man on Friday after being informed by residents that he had burned a Quran inside a mosque where he had been staying for a night.

An angry mob of more than 200 people then broke into the police station in the southern town of Dadu and took the accused man, who they say was under questioning. Din said police tried their best to save the man’s life but were unable to stop the furious crowd.

He said that police had arrested 30 people for suspected involvement in the attack, while the head of the local police station and seven officers had been suspended.

Past attempts by governments in predominantly Muslim Pakistan to review these laws have met with violent opposition from hardline Islamist parties.

11 die in bus attack

At least 11 would-be economic migrants were shot dead by gunmen in Gwadar district near the Iranian border on Friday, reports said today.

Two double-cabin pick-ups, carrying an unspecified number of economic migrants, were en route to the Iranian border when gunmen ambushed them in Suntsar, a mountainous area some 80 kilometres from Gwadar city, sources told The Express Tribune by phone. “Around 11 people, most hailing from Punjab, were killed,” one source added.

The gunmen escaped from the scene unchallenged. Sources said that rescuers and security forces could not reach the site immediately as it was raining and the dirt track leading to the area had become impassable.

The region’s top administrator confirmed that some people trying to cross into Iran were killed. “We don’t know the exact number of fatalities. We have sent security forces to the area to gather facts,” Rehmat Dashti, the assistant commissioner of Gwadar district, told The Express Tribune.

Dashti did not identify the victims. But the Makran route is frequently used by human smugglers to send economic migrants, mostly from Punjab and Afghanistan, to Europe via Iran and Turkey.

Checkpoints of security forces dot the major highways from Bela to Makran up to the Iranian border. This makes such large movement of migrants without the connivance of security forces very difficult.

Iranian security forces frequently arrest illegal immigrants, who are subsequently handed over to Pakistani border guards.

 

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