BAHAWALPUR: In a harrowing incident of mob justice, hundreds of people accused a ‘deranged’ man of sacrilege, mercilessly beat him and burnt him alive in southern Punjab, police said on Wednesday.
The incident took place in Chanighot area of Bahawalpur on Tuesday evening. Residents saw a man allegedly throwing pages from the Holy Quran onto the street. Local police took him into custody and put him in the lockup.
The news spread like a forest fire in the neighbourhood – and soon a frenzied mob gathered outside the Chanighot police station baying for blood.
Police couldn’t stand up to the furious and violent crowd who got hold of the alleged blasphemer, described by one police official as deranged, and brutally tortured him.
Some officers fired tear gas canisters to disperse the mob – but the emotionally charged people refused to hand over the alleged blasphemer and instead turned against the police officers, according to Ghulam Mohiuddin Gujjar, the station house officer (SHO) of Chanighot police station.
Nine police officers, including SHO Gujjar and DSP Rana Naveed Mumtaz, were injured while trying – though unsuccessfully – to rescue the man.
The mob burnt down several police vehicles, including DSP Mumtaz’s four-wheeler, before getting hold of the man, who has not been identified.
Once the unidentified man was in the mob’s custody, he was dragged to the Chanighot Chakar (roundabout), where he had allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran, doused him in petrol and set him on fire.
SHO Gujjar said they have registered two FIRs against 1,500-2,000 people.
DPO Bahawalpur Ahmad Ishaque Jehangir told The Express Tribune that police reinforcement has been sent to the area to bring the situation under control. He added that they were investigating the incident.
Jehangir said that an additional police force had been deployed in Chanighot police station to avoid any untoward incident. The man’s body was shifted to a local hospital for autopsy.