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Pakistan: Horrid Act of Mob Shock The Citizens

As if the stories of human suffering, displacement of millions of people due to havoc caused by the flooding were not enough for the nation, yet another tragic incident started unfolding in Pakistan recently. Pakistanis are in shock as the news and video of the brutal mob-lynching of two teenage brothers were aired on local media on 22nd of August, 2010.

According to the local newspapers, the mob-lynching occurred on 15th August in Sialkot, in eastern Punjab province of Pakistan. Later, it turned out that the victims, Moiz Butt (17) and his brother Muneeb (15), were innocent and belonged to a respectable family.

Mob-lynching in front of police

Beating two boys in front of police and an enthusiastic crowd. Screenshot from YouTube Video

Apparently, the two boys in question had gotten into a fight over a cricket match and when they were headed out for another match early morning the following day, they were ambushed and once the townsfolk and the police noticed, the perpetrators blamed them for theft and the boys were beaten to death by a savage mob.

The video clips of the incident are the reason why everyone can feel the intensity of the incident. The origins of the video are unknown and there are reports that multiple men in the crowd recorded the attack using cell phones. The images of the boys’ bloodied bodies, but several faces in the crowd are clearly identifiable, including several police officers in uniform who watched.

The scene, caught on video and broadcast on news channels, has outraged and anguished Pakistanis. Here are the links (1, 2, and 3).

President Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned the killing and called for an inquiry vowing to punish the killers. The Interior Minister Rehman Malik asserted that the local citizens will not be allowed to create their own justice system.

The Supreme Court has taken notice of the double murder and a case was registered against 14 people.

Many Pakistani Bloggers have been outraged by this incident. Asadullah Qureshi, a blogger writes:

“We need to own up to the fact that the perpetrators arose from amongst us. After all is said and done, as long as a majority of the country, willingly or unwillingly, shuns reason in favour of this extremist sense of morality and justice, it is likely we will see such a tragedy again.”

Jahanzaib Haque at Express Blog highlights this issue by claiming ‘I am part of the Sialkot lynch mob':

“Let’s end the blame game. Let’s stop pointing fingers at Taliban, drugs, political parties, elite, police, army or even a global conspiracy is afoot. I will be the first to admit that I have made some terrible choices in my life. I am part of that mob in Sialkot. Despair is easy, hate is easy, apathy is easy, but for the sake of two brothers in Sialkot, we should try to change by effectively addressing the corruption within us. It is either that, or stand alongside the mob to watch on.”

The blogger further adds:

“In a country afflicted with back-to-back political and civil strife, war, terrorism, poverty and natural disaster, violent extremism (in all forms) is bound to flourish, nay become an outlet for venting the utter helplessness individuals feel at a personal level. And none of us are immune to its effect.”

Sadaf Khan, a journalist writes at her blog ‘Existential Quest’:

“Having seen the insane act, un-cut and un-blurred, I cannot even begin to comprehend just how anybody with the least bit of humanity, could actually stand there are watch the barbarians without so much as flinching. The double murder in Sialkot is not just an unfortunate and horrifying incident; it is not just a matter of an out of control mob. The incident, in fact is proof that we as a society have become so devastatingly barbaric, that dozens can actually stand and watch, while some men literally beat the life out of two helpless teenagers.

Barbarians within a barbaric crowd, Is there any thing, any thing in the world that could actually be termed fair punishment for these people?”

Haroon Riaz, a free lance writer made following remarks in his insightful article ‘The Sialkot Carnage: Are Pakistanis Becoming a Savage Nation?’:

“I have a feeling these brutal savages knew who these boys were and that they were specifically targeted. I have a feeling that there is more to this story, which is being covered up by the people, the corrupt DPO, the local administration and the criminal police of the area.
This tragic and horrific incident should get every Pakistani worried and thinking. It is not an everyday incident or act of crime at all. For if they do not speak out against it, and talk about it, so to educate the unaware masses out there, many of them could find the same treatment on the streets.”

This incident also proves to be a wakeup call for Pakistan's law-enforcing agencies as is evident from the following views:

Fiverupees comments:

“”.. Authority exists only if people believe it exists. Do citizens believe that they will get justice if they leave it up to the state? If yes, it makes sense to leave it in its hands. If not, it doesn't, and by that very action, they undermine the authority of the state.

When government doesn't work, people make their own personal governments. 180 million mini-governments is a recipe for disaster; it is a return to the state of nature. The media and technological revolutions in this country have meant that people are increasingly aware that government doesn't work. In my mind, this issue — of how to get the state to do the simple things right – will be the public policy issue that serious analysts and activists must grapple with for the next ten or fifteen years. The very deep and structural change Pakistan is going through demand nothing less.”

Dawn newspaper's editorial on ‘Mob justice’ comments:

“When those tasked with law enforcement and governance fail to deliver and a general sense of hopelessness and injustice prevails in society, people take matters into their own hands.”

Horrific as the incident may sound but ‘mob justice’ has been quite the norm in some rural parts of the country. Mob justice or the rule of might is right is an action prevailing in societies who have lost the trust in the law of state so the societies turn into vigilantes.

While the causes of the incident are being probed by the authorities, one evident cause is the rise of extremism in our society which has its roots in ignorance and no doubt ‘ignorance is the root and stem of every evil.’

  • http://www.mysticsaint.info Bulleh ki Jana mey Koyn

    No wonder the Wrath of Divine Justice never fails upon people who are devoid of humane qualities and when injustice become the norm and when human being act worse than animals.

  • http://hivinkenya.blogspot.com/ Simon Collery

    The were found to be from a ‘respectable family’. So, if they had been found to be street children it wouldn’t have mattered?

    • http://selene192.wordpress.com/ Sana Jamal

      No that point was highlighted to clear the illusion that they were not thieves.

  • Rahman

    This is very unfortunate situation; brutality beyond imagination. It may seem that this particular kind of torture started sometimes ago in Karachi when people captured and burned two thieves alive, but it was there from last 30 to 40 years. Unfortunately, most of the intellectuals and the media tried to find justification instead of realizing the dire consequences of inhuman extra-judicial murders. It was graphic nature of the video that was noticed by the chief justice and eventually politicians started to realize the brutal nature of the mob-mentality or vigilantism. Unfortunately, our religious leadership is as guilty as others because in many cases either they instigated it or never dealt it in the way they do many other non-issues.
    This phenomenon is a natural outcome of other brutal activities we conduct on a daily bases; be-heading, bombing, acid throwing, karo kari, honor killing and so on. Few months ago, a young couple was brutally killed in Multan area. Both were medical doctors and were serving the poor community there. The killing was as brutal it could get. The killers tied them with chairs and drilled in their eyes and other parts to kill them slowly. There was hardly any news in the papers about the graphic nature of the killing. Even though police was informed in advance about the danger because being as an Ahmadi/Qadiyani, they were getting threats but no action was taken. After the killing, no public condemnation, not even a single arrest after 10 months.
    So when you let these things go unnoticed for “others” eventually it comes to “you” too. We need absolute justice. For that we need to change our mentality, condemn injustice in every form, very strict punishment for mob and vigilant mentality in every scenario. No selective justice, no political correctness, no external or internal pressure. No ifs or buts. Every extra-judicial murder and vandalism should get tough punishment, no matter if it’s religiously, politically, ethnically, or linguistically motivated. All instigators, no matter how big, important, and “divine” they are, need to face the consequences of their actions. Only then we’ll able to control it. Secondly, we need to teach the value and importance of human life in our schools too. Until and unless you stop putting different “value” for different individuals you cannot put this jinnee back into the bottle. In my opinion, any system (democracy, theocracy, monarchy, communism, etc) can work provided there is freedom of conscious and an absolute justice system for each and every member of the society”.

    • http://selene192.wordpress.com/ Sana Jamal

      yes I agree with you that the extremism around us have given to incentives to such acts and things take worst forms when we start to ignore them.
      Change in our mentality and awareness is what we need to cut down such horrid acts. I hope this incident proves to be an alarming situation for citizens as well as government.

  • Nabila Taj
  • Pingback: South Asia: Looking Back At The Citizen Media Storylines in 2010 · Global Voices

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