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Saturday, July 13, 2024  
06 Muharram 1446  

Loudspeakers were ‘used to instigate people’ in Swat mob lynching case

DPO says investigation under way; activist says no need for another operation in KP
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Some motorcyclists used loudspeakers in addition to announcements in mosques to instigate people in the Swat mob lynching case, a police official said on Sunday.

“As per my reports, announcements were made in the mosques. A few opposed the request. But some people on motorcycles carried loudspeakers and made the announcement in streets,” Swat DPO Zahidullah Khan said while appearing on Aaj Exclusive aired on Aaj News.

On Thursday night, a violent mob lynched a man and set his body on fire over allegations of desecrating the holy Quran. The crowd also torched the police station from where they dragged him to the streets.

The alleged accused has been identified as a resident of Sialkot, Punjab, who was staying at a hotel in Madyan as a tourist.

The DPO confirmed that at least 23 suspects were arrested after a “grand operation” in the city and its nearby areas. They were named in the first information report and identified through the CCTV footage and social media videos.

A case was registered under sections 302 (punishment for murder), 324 (attempted murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act against those involved in the incident.

When asked, he said that it would be premature to say that any specific group or lobby was involved in the incident as people from different schools of thought and age groups were found involved in it. He added that there were no reports of personal enmity.

“These are early days, let police complete the investigation. We are working on it and we are trying to punish people involved in it.”

Human rights activist Zigar Sher, who joined the show via video link, said that such incidents mostly occurred in summer seasons. He also mentioned the area’s conservative society, describing it as “favourable” where people’s religious sentiments were provoked for chaos and used for personal use.

He highlighted that it has not been ascertained whether blasphemy was committed or not. Sher lamented that all the key evidence had gone after the police station was torched.

The human rights activist was wary of the investigation and outcome, saying that the institutions might refrain from taking action in fear of riots.

Peter Jacob, the executive director of the Centre for Social Justice, called for fair trial and investigation and mentioned that suspects were released by courts in similar cases because of their young age.

The Swat DPO clarified that police were trying to present evidence and ensure conviction of the suspects if found guilty. “The case was registered against 49 known and 2,500 unknown accused named in the FIR,” he said and added that suspects have to be identified through technical evidence and human intelligence.“

In response to a question, he defended the SHO’s decision to take the man to the police station. Khan termed it a “split-second decision”.

In the discussion, the human rights activist raised some basic questions over the incidents like the cause and motive behind the alleged blasphemy.

“Who made the announcement? This incident did not occur all of a sudden. If he had the intention why did he wait for two days? The cruel irony is that reality never comes out in such cases,” he said and called for strategies to deal with such cases.

Jacob, the minority community member, shares some statistics. “So far, 100 people have been killed over blasphemy allegations since 1994 till to date and 700 people are in Punjab jail. Thousands of people have been victims of false allegations and this year’s statistics show over 85% of victims belong to the religion of Islam,” he said and lamented that people do not talk about the issue.

When asked about the government’s decision to start the counterterrorism campaign Azm-i-Istehkam, DPO Khan called for a holistic approach to counter-militancy and reforms.

According to him, there was no presence of the banned terrorist group Taliban in Swat.

Also, read this

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Asif, Tarar slam PTI for opposing Operation Azm-i-Istehkam

The human rights activist was of the view that results of past military operations should be shared with the people. He wondered about the reason for taking an extreme decision. “Is the military operation the ultimate solution? Not at all, it was neither in the past nor will it be now.”

No one tolerates blasphemy, Sher said and added that the heads of trade unions, hotel associations, locals, and lawyers, have demanded that the reality of the Swat incident should come out. “And now people are aware and ask what you achieved in the last military operation as you are starting a new one.”

Jacob called for rooting out the issue by taking long-lasting measures. He stressed the need for the formation of a high-powered Commission of Inquiry that should give its report in six months.

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