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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

Interior ministry’s report on Swat mob lynching finds fault in police response

Taking blasphemy accused to police station was ‘key mistake’ in Swat mob lynching
A still from social media videos show mob gathered outside the police station which was torched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat on June 20, 2024. Screengrab via social media
A still from social media videos show mob gathered outside the police station which was torched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat on June 20, 2024. Screengrab via social media

A local tourist who was lynched in Swat’s Madyan over allegations of blasphemy had reiterated denial that he desecrated the holy Quran, an interior ministry report said on Saturday.

The police’s decision to take the accused to the police station was the “key mistake” that led to fatal consequences, according to the key points of the report.

A violent mob lynched the suspect on Thursday night and set his body on fire. The man was arrested and brought to the Madyan police station which was later stormed by the mob, according to police and local residents.

Videos of the incident went viral on social media, with some social media users claiming that hundreds of people gathered outside the police station. Some individuals had made announcements in the marketplace that a person had desecrated the Quran, locals had told Aaj News on the condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

The report found that no senior officer guided the station house officer. “Evacuation is the thumb rule” in such circumstances, but the SHO did the opposite.

How did the incident begin?

The tourist had found small pieces of probably Quran pages allegedly desecrated on the veranda, opposite his room’s door, the report said.

The man, who was identified as S*, a resident of Sialkot city, had informed the hotel management about it. The management informed the police and also started to force open the room’s door.

He opened the door. When asked, he “denied” desecrating the Quran. Police arrived and took him away to the station where they were “marooned.” He was detained for at least 30 to 40 minutes.

The report claimed that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan-inspired goons gathered and took over the police station. They were “in contact with the TLP leadership and many were seen speaking on the phone in Urdu to unknown handlers.”

The blasphemy accused reiterated that he did not desecrate the holy book.

What did the police do?

According to the report, the police tried to control damage and tried to disperse the crown by aerial firing. They also confronted the mob, but in the absence of senior officers or political elders, it was “too little too late” and resulted in the fiasco.

Eye witness accounts revealed that senior officers were somewhere in the vicinity as they were reporting to high-ups factually but were “not on the ground to take charge” of the situation.

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Swat

desecration of Quran