02/14/2022, 13.36
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Punjab: Mob stone to death man accused of blasphemy

by Shafique Khokhar

A crowd of fanatics tied Muhammad Mushtaq to a tree and killed him. According to the custodian of the local mosque, he had burned pages of the Koran. The police were unable to intervene. Local residents said that Ahmed was mentally unstable.



Mian Channu (AsiaNews) - A crowd of fanatics has killed a man accused of burning pages of the Koran. Muhammad Mushtaq was tied up, tortured and then stoned to death in the Khanewal district of Punjab.

The keeper of a mosque said he saw the man inside the building burning pages of the holy book for Muslims. Before informing the police, he reported the incident to some local residents. 

Inspector Munawar Hussain of the Talumba police station said that he filed a first information report, but added that it was impossible to save the man because he was already in the hands of the angry crowd, who prevented the police from intervening, injuring some officers.

When reinforcements arrived, it was already too late, the inspector explained: the man had been tied to a tree and the extremists were beating him to death while shouting religious slogans. According to some witnesses, before being lynched, Mushtaq was in police custody and the fanatics dragged him out.

Rao Sardar Ali Khan, Inspector General of Punjab, has demanded a thorough investigation from the local police office in Multan. So far, law enforcement agencies said they have arrested more than 80 persons connected with the lynching. 

After the body was handed over to the family, funerals were held yesterday. Hundreds of local residents attended and offered their prayers at the Ghousia mosque. Residents of Bara Chak village also stated that Mushtaq Ahmed had been mentally unstable for at least 15 years and was sometimes missing from home for days. "Before the mental illness, he was a decent football player and of good character," said a landowner of the village.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government has "zero tolerance for anyone who decides to take justice into their own hands" and that this case would be "dealt with in accordance with the laws".

This is not the first episode in which extremists have killed a man accused of blasphemy. In December in Sialkot, a manager with Sri Lankan citizenship, guilty of removing posters with Koranic verses from the factory where he worked, was killed and his body burnt.

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