|Martin Barillas||July 10th 2012|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
No indictments have yet emerged in the horrific death of a man accused of blasphemy at the hands of a ferocious mob in Pakistan. Ghullam Abbas, who has been described as a man in his 40s, was in detention at a lock-up in Pakistan’s northeast Punjab region, having been accused of burning a copy of the Koran. The Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Bahawalpur District said that the Chani Goth police station received a complaint that Abbas had incinerated pages of Islam’s holy book. Once Abbas was arrested and in jail, Muslim religious leaders broadcast his offense on loudspeakers in the town. A mob of some 2,000 people soon showed up, baying for Abbas’ life.
Blocking the main highway through the town on the outskirts of Bahawalpur, the mob soon broke down the gates of the police station and attacked the officers inside. The station house commander along with four bodyguards were injured. In sum, 15 officers were injured in the affray.
The local police chief Ghulam Mohiuddin Gajjar, according to Al-Jazeera, said that protesters set fire to several motorcycles and other vehicles parked at the station. “Later they took Ghulam Abbas to a main crossing, beat him to death, and set his body on fire,” said Mohiuddin according to Al-Jazeera, which is a state-controlled news service based in Qatar. However, other reports out of Pakistan assert that Abbas was alive when he was doused with gasoline on set on fire. In reports by Speroforum and Assist News Service, the very same police chief, Ghulam Mohiuddin Gajjar, said “I also sustained a few injuries during the attack. Our 14 to 15 police officers were injured and were admitted in the hospital. Before we could know details about the person who was arrested, the mob broke into the lockup and took out the prisoner, threw petrol [gasoline] on him and burnt him alive.” The officer also said, “The mob stood there until the man completely burnt."
Police also say that the victim of the lynching was mentally unstable. An autopsy was scheduled over the killing. A local politician, DSP Naveed, said that a complaint about the lynching has been filed and that an arrest is imminent. “We are thankful to Allah that no policeman was killed in the attack," said Naveed.
Christians and other minorities in Pakistan, such as the Ahmadi Muslims and Hindus, are fearful that such Muslim retribution is a harbinger of even harsher persecution in the Muslim-majority country. They point to the murder of the former Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was assassinated by his own body guard for defending Asia Bibi - a Christian woman accused of blasphemy and condemned to death. She is still in jail and expects execution, despite pleas for clemency from around the world.
In a statement, the Masihi Foundation Pakistan and Life for All Pakistan have strongly condemned the incident. "Religion should be kept separate from the state affairs, burning a man alive is a inhuman act, the police has failed to take action against the people responsible. The law was abused by the mob, there is no justification for this barbaric act. The authorities must act and take action against the lawlessness. No one is above the law, there is no justification in killing a human being, it was for the judicial system to decide whether the person is guilty or not. Its time to put an end of the law of the jungle or we will end up in insanity. Laws are made to protect men from other men, not to protect God from humans. We urge the Chief Justice to take notice of the incident and take action against the people involved in the incident. The CJ must ensure the rule of the law in the Country."
The two groups were joined by Amnesty International and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in condemning the extrajudicial killing.
Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.