Loss of sanity

Published: July 5, 2012

An enraged mob beat up and set alight a deranged man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran in Chanighot, Bahawalpur.

As a nation, we seem to have collectively lost our sanity. Incidents that highlight our society’s extreme intolerance take place on a regular basis and yet, we do nothing to reform this state of affairs. The latest such tragedy took place at Chanighot in Bahawalpur, where an enraged mob beat up and set alight a deranged man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran. The incident stems from growing intolerance and hysteria over blasphemy and the failure to amend laws that lay down a death sentence, as well as the failure to introduce reforms that could help ensure that the law is not misused and those accused of blasphemy, at least, have access to a fair trial before a court of law.

This is not the first instance of an accused being killed for alleged blasphemy before a court verdict has been delivered. In this case, the accused was arrested by the police after being blamed for desecrating pages of the Holy Quran. Soon after news of the alleged blasphemy spread, a mob surrounded the police station where the accused was being held. It may be noted that Bahawalpur and most of southern Punjab is home to hundreds of seminaries and the various organisations that run them. This may explain the terrible sequence of events that followed. The police station was attacked, vehicles parked outside burnt and despite resistance from the police, who tried to dissipate the mob through using tear gas canisters and batons, the alleged blasphemer was dragged away. In what must have been a horrific spectacle, he was then burnt alive in public. His screams of agony moved no one to intervene and police officials, some of whom had also been injured in the attack, stood by helplessly.

According to a police official, the man in question was mentally unstable. Two FIRs against 1,500 to 2,000 people have been filed but not a single one of these persons has actually been named in them. This latest outrage makes it clear that the law needs reform without delay. But even if it is reformed, the only way to actually control such incidents is to reform the mindset that believes in murder and violence in the name of faith and in taking the law into one’s own hands. Without that, we will continue to witness such bigotry and intolerance, whose perpetrators actually believe that what they did was right.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2012.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Jul 6, 2012 - 6:19AM

    This nation is doomed to fail.

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  • Mirza
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:53AM

    The inaction and silence on this subject is deafening, which says it all. In a country where the massacre of democracy and Gen Zia is still revered by many is not going to go in the positive direction. If some think that we have serious problems they have no idea what is in store when the US leaves the area, dollars dry up and the terrorists get full protection and freedom. What Gen Zia and other fanatics have sowed is ready for bumper harvest.

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  • HH
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Astaghfir-Ullah! Ya Allah, please guide us. We are turning barbarians. We should turn back the pages of history, go beyond 1100/1200 years, find such cases and see whether those who were resonsible were treated in the same manner??? Problem is that even those religeous clerics who know this is wrong have become weak and can’t speak openly.

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  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:20AM

    Don’t mistake me. I want Pakistan to remain Pakistan. I never want Pakistan to be a part of India.

    However, creation of Pakistan was a mistake. It was created by some myopic people with religion as the reason?!!!!Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:36AM

    “Not a single individual has been named in the FIR” – absolutely brilliant investigative skills. 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. I hope the resistance put up was not of the same quality as that of the Bannu jail.

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  • iftikhar
    Jul 6, 2012 - 10:02AM

    In a province where the chief minister goads people to protest and encourages mob justice, what do you expect. Today it is the sacrilege and power outages, tomorrow there will be mob justice for everything! Irony will be that everyone from the leftist to the conservative will be saying “we should be able to resolve our disputes through talks because that is how civilian societies resolve their differences”.

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  • sars
    Jul 6, 2012 - 11:05AM

    This is terrible news and similar to another event that happened in Quetta. In that instance the mob did not manage to touch the suspect but two small kids died.
    If these sorts of happenings occur on a (almost) monthly basis , the only logical conclusion is that we rever the physicality of the book more than the message in the book.
    In that case what is the difference between us and idolators?

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  • HS
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:27PM

    Welcome to Pakistan (sigh) Alhamdulillah

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:31PM

    A shameful act by an illiterate and arrogant mob. why Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif not condemning it!!??

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  • Bolshevik
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:23PM

    @Naeem Siddiqui:
    Because they are both right wing Islamists who want to enforce Shariah on Pakistan.

    ANP is the only party that can save this country from incidents like these.

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  • Saadia
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:13PM

    @mr. righty rightist, blame Nehru who gave opportunity to have separate land.

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  • Khalid Javed
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:18PM

    @Pakistani Hindu:
    Don’t you remember what happened in your so called ideal country’s Indian Gujrat, has it failed! Down with your cynicismRecommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:58PM

    @Khaled Javed who writes “Don’t you remember what happened in your so called ideal country’s Indian Gujrat, has it failed! Down with your cynicism”

    Why don’t you please enlighten us Khaled. Or let me do it for you. What happened in Gujrat was a mob of Muslims burning down a train of Hindus resulting in riots.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jul 6, 2012 - 10:10PM

    As this incident makes news around the world, the world opinion of Pakistan sinks ever lower!

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  • KASHIF NISAR
    Jul 6, 2012 - 10:54PM

    sou mooto needed here cj

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  • Jul 7, 2012 - 7:48AM

    @KASHIF NISAR:
    Suo moto is sleeping.

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  • observer
    Jul 7, 2012 - 8:45AM

    Loss of sanity

    SANITY???

    LOSS????

    I beg your pardon!

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  • Gary Sparkes
    Jul 7, 2012 - 10:33PM

    “…the only way to actually control such incidents is to reform the mindset that believes in murder and violence in the name of faith and in taking the law into one’s own hands. Without that, we will continue to witness such bigotry and intolerance, whose perpetrators actually believe that what they did was right.”

    I have to commend the author for having the integrity to say it like it is. Too many people pander to ‘religious sensibilities’ and this kind of barbaric display is precisely the natural outcome of that if good people are prepared sit and say nothing while evil is perpetrated.

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