In a shockingly outrageous incident in Bahawalpur, a metropolitan city in Punjab, an angry mob attacked an alleged blasphemer and burnt him alive. According to local reports, the alleged criminal was in police custody when a mob of 2000 frenzied people broke into the jail building and demanded the police to handover the prisoner to them. When the police refused to comply with their illegal demand, the mob started a riot and caused havoc. As a result the police was forced to use tear gas to disperse these rioters. Unfortunately, tear gas and shell came to no avail. The mob broke inside the jail, took the alleged blasphemer outside and burned him openly.
The mob says that the person had desecrated the Muslim's holy scripture, The Koran.
Was he a blasphemer?
There is no shred of evidence to proof that the person killed was a blasphemer. According to police reports, the person was mentally ill; he was taken into police custody when some people alleged he desecrated the Muslim holy book.
Nadeem F. Paracha, a notable columnist, considers him to be a vagabond. He had a Sufi background with no sense of the present world and time. He was a follower of the Mansur Al-Hallaj – the famous 10th century Sufi saint, scholar and poet who was put to death by the authorities in Iraq for committing blasphemy.
Can a mentally sick person be called a blasphemer? Is vigilantism a sane behaviour in any civilized society? Can an angry mob be the upholders of God's justice in the present world? Did they think God's ultimate mercy will come to them? Answer to all these question is a simple ‘No’. Nadeem Paracha writes:
“The nation heard and saw its faith and holy texts being ‘avenged’ not by God-fearing men, but by a mob of retarded, subhuman filth.”
The man burning on the street helplessly cried, while hundreds of men saw this barbarianism with their eyes wide open. Wajiha Noor aptly comments:
Maybe I am illiterate or don’t belong to their religion but I know no book of God that preaches such bigotry and brutality.
Blasphemy is a thorny issue in Pakistan. Last year, Mr. Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was killed by his own security guard on the pretext of committing blasphemy. The governor was killed in broad daylight, while the killer is now considered a hero in Pakistan. He had sympathized with a poor Christian woman who was arrested after being accused for blasphemy when she was forcefully being converted to Islam.
A reason for the continuation on such horrendous acts is the improperly worded Blasphemy laws in Pakistan. An Amnesty international press release says:
Pakistan authorities must also urgently reform blasphemy laws to ensure they cannot be used maliciously to settle disputes or enable private citizens to take matters into their own hands.
A large proportion of people charged under these laws are Muslims. Mostly, these laws are used to settle down personal feuds and disagreements. It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.
Secondly, the radicalization of Pakistani society also catalyses such acts. The electronic media is also a source of radicalization in the country. Mumtaz Qadri was inspired to kill Governor Taseer by a cleric's sermon. The government of Pakistan fails to handle media and the clerics in Pakistan, causing nuisance and terrorism everywhere inside the state.
Although words cannot cover up this barbarianism, the incident was condemned vehemently by the society at large.
Zara Mazhar comments:
“I have only got one thing to say – their God is going to burn each and every one of these in the same way.”
“Islam DOES NOT teach this ,the uneducated barbaric MULLAHS are responsible for brain washing the uneducated!”
The Bishop of Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Rufin Anthony, condemned this act in the strongest of words.
HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan) vehemently condemn this incident:
“HRCP also strongly condemns not only the burning to death of a man in Bahawalpur, who had been accused of desecrating pages of the Quran, but also the authorities’ failure to prevent a horrendous crime that was not at all unexpected
Salman Taseer's daughter, Sara Taseer tweets:
— Sara Taseer Shoaib (@sarataseer) July 6, 2012
Tufail Malik criticised the crime of silence:
Our electronic media is seen silent in many critical issues like, burning incidence in Bahawalpur ,bus killing in Turbat , drone attacks
— Tufail Malik (@mTufailMalik) July 6, 2012
Fizza Arrehman wants justice:
Came to know about the Bahawalpur incident. Sad enough. Such people should be hanged to death :/
— ChuLLbuLee (@fizzarahman) July 6, 2012
Zafar Malik criticises the role of Islamic clerics:
Mullahs and their brain-washed followers are turning Pakistan into a Nut-House. What a pitty.
As of 6th July 2012, two FIRs (First Investigation Reports) have been filled against the 2,000 people who broke into the jail. Meanwhile, not a single person is yet to be arrested for the crime. An investigation is also need to be done on the role of police. Feroz comments:
The first matter that needs investigation is the true role played by the Police in this incident and their claim that they put up heavy resistance.
On the other hand, the identity of the alleged blasphemer is yet unknown. Probably, we'll never know it as his family would be afraid to come out in the public.