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Saturday, July 20, 2024  
13 Muharram 1446  

Mob lynches man over blasphemy in PTI rally

Police takes the body into custody

A mob has lynched a man with sticks and stones after accusing him of blasphemy at a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally in Mardan on Saturday.

The man, identified as Nigar Alam, was a resident of Shirin Kot in Nowshehra and had come to Mardan to participate in the rally.

However, when leading a dua on the stage at the end of the rally at around 7pm, he made remarks that were considered blasphemous by the crowd.

Videos on social media showed a murmur running through the crowd as soon as Nigar made the remarks.

Independent Urdu reported that the gathering included between 400 and 500 people when the attack happened. The mob descended on the man, chased him into an alley where he was killed with repeated blows.

Police were present at the rally, but were unable to stop the mob. Some voices, asking for the violence to be stopped, can be heard in the videos circulating on social media as well.

The police did manage to stop the mob from mutilating the man’s body and took it into custody. The body has still not been handed over to his family and an FIR has yet to be registered.

Police told AFP Alam was asked to deliver the concluding prayer at a rally organised by the PT when the crowd took offence to his comments.

He managed to flee the scene, police said, but a mob tracked him down to a relative’s house.

“A group of individuals climbed over the wall, barged inside, and beat him to death with sticks and batons,” said district police chief Najeeb-ur-Rehman

“The mob was so agitated that it became extremely challenging for the police to even recover the body,” he told AFP.

Another local police official, Umair Khan, confirmed the incident.

PTI leader Khan was not present at the rally and party officials had no immediate comment on the incident.

Few issues in Pakistan are as galvanising as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynchings.

According to the Centre for Social Justice – an independent group advocating for the rights of minorities – more than 2,000 people have been accused of committing blasphemy since 1987, and at least 88 people killed by lynch mobs for similar allegations.

Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy are often wielded in Pakistan to settle personal vendettas, with minorities largely the targets.

Mob violence over accusations of blasphemy has become common in Pakistan. Crowds take matters into their own hands even though blasphemy is punishable under the Pakistan penal code.

In April, a Chinese engineer had to be airlifted to a safe location after workers at Dasu dam’s construction site accused him of blasphemy. Later it was reported in the media that the engineer had criticised the slow pace of work.

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mob attacks