Burnt alive for blasphemy: President shocked over mob justice

Published: July 5, 2012
Zardari expresses profound grief and shock over the incident. PHOTO: REUTERS

Zardari expresses profound grief and shock over the incident. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A day after reports emerged that hundreds of angry protestors had wrested a mentally unstable man from police custody before burning him in the town square for alleged blasphemy, President Asif Ali Zardari has taken notice, expressing profound grief and shock over the harrowing incident.

President Zardari said that no one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands no matter what the crime is. The President also directed the concerned to dispense justice according to the law in this case.

The President directed the Advisor for Interior Rehman Malik to conduct an inquiry into the incident and that the report be submitted to the Presidency immediately.

PM seeks report on incident

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has also taken notice of the incident and has sought a report from the concerned departments.

Burnt alive

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 – 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.

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Reader Comments (73)

  • asad
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:08PM

    If ppp had not been so apologetic and had come out strongly and publicly against the mentality behind the murders of salman taseer and shahbaz bhatti things wouldn’t have gotten so bad.
    This was not just one or two ppl,these were the pakistani awam in their thousands who tortured and burnt this man to death,this reveals the mentality of the majority of our population.
    We’ve let religion take over our minds to such an extent that we can’t differentiate between right and wrong.


  • Jehania
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:12PM

    This is barbarianism. This is unheard of and words just dont sit together when trying to describe or assess this. Frustrations of mind and souls are coming out all in wrong places. This country (this is not a nation) has zeo tolerance for someone whom the people perceive as weak.

    May Allah help us because we surely seem far from being capable enough…


  • Siddiqui
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:13PM

    repeal blasphemy law please…


  • Zafar Majeed
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:13PM

    This is what happens when a country surrenders before the forces of religious fanaticsim.Our fixation with religion has reached a stage where Thousands of our people are willing to burn a man to death.How can anyone now say that the thousands of these people were following a ‘ religion of peace’ ? Is this how peaceful people behave? Burn a man alive? What kind of Islam is this?Recommend

  • Paki
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:17PM

    If people start relying on laws then only such incidents can be eradicated.
    But the laws should also be reliable that people start relying on our judicial system.


  • Umair
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:25PM

    let advise be taken from international Islamic society over this law…


  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:29PM

    @Zafar Majeed

    Well, this is what happens when a country is carved out of a secular system in the name of religion.


  • @plarkin
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:29PM

    What about the law against murder? The entire mob should be charged with this man’s murder and given the penalty that’s reserved for murder.


  • Cautious
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:31PM

    Kudos to Zardari — it’s important that all leaders – political, military and religious publicly condemn these atrocious acts.


  • Feroz
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:35PM

    This mob violence needs to be brought under control immediately. Never know who the mob is going to go after next and for what reason. The Law enforcement machinery needs to be woken up from slumber or revamped. Court also should focus on cases involving on law,order and crime, not on ones that generate publicity or involve melodrama.


  • Jul 5, 2012 - 9:36PM

    Vienna,July 5,2012
    I am still mourning for the teenage boys lynched at Sialkot
    as robbers with the participation of law enforcement agency
    including a SHO.THEIR BODIES were hung upside down on
    Station House post! Here it is a case of unidentified mentally
    deranged person who could not have known a holy or unholy
    book.SAD in any case.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna


  • Syed Aqeel Haider
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:39PM

    People are Brutally Killing people in the name of Religion. It remind us of Dark Ages!Recommend

  • AnisAqeel
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:40PM

    Mr. President thank you but you shouldn’t be sorry for this incident, you should be sorry that this law still exists. You have lost your friend and your representative as governor of Punjab, you lost your minorities minister, Ahmadis lost scores of this hate infected bigoted law yet all officials say sorry and not scratch this law altogether. May Almighty Allah guide our politicians as this law is a creation of politics and the sect (Ahmadiyya) for whom this law was created is enjoying super speed progress all over the world.


  • Jul 5, 2012 - 9:42PM

    @Siddiqui: it’s generations too late to think that merely repealing the blasphemy law will solve the problem as long as Pakistani police won’t employ deadly force to protect law-abiding citizens or incarcerated suspects from a mob; concerned Pakistani citizens themselves must confront their crazed fellows to stop the madness.


  • FP
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:45PM

    Mr. president all we hear and read from you and your Miunisters is ” shocked, saddened and taken notice and ordered action” and so forth
    but no action which can lead to sentance where necessary. So these sort of barbaric incidents will keep happening in Land of Pure.


  • Jpy
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:45PM

    The police who allowed the mob to take away this man are primarly responsible for this gruesome murder. They should have acted and disbursed this crowd by using force instead of succumbing to this lunatics agenda


    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:45PM

    After all mr President in end of his term starting to see the Orphons and the Weakest of the land.


  • Sindhi
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:47PM

    Only PPP and MQM have the guts to speak up against barbarism in this country. Where is SUO-MOTO??

    Rightwing PML-N, PTI will go into hiding. They can only speak against liberal PPP and MQM.Recommend

  • Imran Munawar
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:53PM

    Does it really take one to be ‘rocket scientist’ to figure out which side really represent the sick side – the mentally deranged person or the frenzied mob who lynched him alive…?


  • Mirza
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:54PM

    Thanks Mr. President for at least taking a verbal stand against this brutal killing by lynch mob at the name of religion. Let us see how many “good nay great” leaders take a clear and just stand. This is one of the few reasons I support PPP as most other parties except ANP and MQM are rightwing extremists. It is not surprising that the fanatic terrorists only kill PPP and ANP leaders with regularity and do not touch rightwing leaders. In presence of this kind of lynch mobs and still the supporters of Gen Zia, no wonder no secular govt can govern. Till a more liberal and secular national party comes out there is no other choice for the PPP supporters but to continue voting for PPP. Hum liberal hai PPP ke tarufdar nahin!


  • Jul 5, 2012 - 9:57PM

    our approach to religion is not rational–rather it is emotional.it should be rememered that thw word of koran comes alive only when u read it–otherwise its just patterns of ink on paper.
    we are rapidly descending into a pit of destruction and mayhem. there is no hope for us
    we have travelled too far on the road of intolernace and violence.there is no going back.
    islam has come to mean death and destruction .

  • Badr
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:18PM

    This is what happens when education is at lowest priority and extremism/fanaticism is at the highest. the Imam of the Mosque instead of promoting peace, harmony and love amongst the people, lashes out against religious minorities and promotes the religion with hate, anger and extremism against anyone who fails to oblige the code set forth in his sect.

    To me the main blasphemers are those Fascists Mullahs who try to perverted our religion by promoting their own agenda of hatred, animosity and hostility towards others.

    As people of Pakistan, we have to learn from all our mistakes we have been consistently making over the past 65 years and harmonize ourselves to understand and appreciate each others differences and garner them to take the country forward.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:21PM

    On the dual Nationality issue you acted within 48 hours to ammend it to your liking.
    Lets see what you will do on this – my guess is a big nothing.


  • jibran
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:28PM

    Punjab police should have used live ammo to disperse the crowd. There should be zero tolerance towards barbarity. If you take law in your hand, you vacate your right of freedom and possibly of your life. Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:32PM

    After Sialkot : Shocked

    After Karachi : Shocked

    After Salman Taseer : Shocked

    After Red Mosque : Shocked

    After Kohistan : Shocked

    After this incidence : Shocked

    My suggestion to Pakistanis : Don’t take any action against the non-state actors, keep your mouth agog and eyebrows raised every minute, so you don’t have to be shocked and shocked and shocked, again and again and again.


  • Jeffmahagaonvi
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:32PM

    Please stop acts of barbarism in the name of religon. We are giving
    ourselves the bad name to Islam. And then we will say why the
    whole world is against us and our religion.
    Live with love-Let democracy work


  • 3rdRockfromtheSun
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:38PM

    A few days back, I had commented on precisely such overreactions in Pakistan to instances like this, but my comment was censored! Well, censoring me (and others like me) doesn’t really take the problem away, does it now?
    And it’s not just the illterate who think like this mob – there are many “literate” (I don’t think of them as educated) Pakistanis who also demand a similar justice for alleged “acts of blasphemy”.
    Is Islam so insecure, that an individual’s action deemed blasphemous, whether intentional or not, will pose a danger to the religion and the faith of its followers?


  • jibran
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:14PM

    Kids lesson 1: in your life in Pakistan, if you don’t want to invite trouble, stay away from religious books and religious people. Otherwise you would be walking on a thin line, accidents do happen, and the way society is progressing, you might not always be lucky. Each day in life is like winning a jackpot.


  • hurt
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:35PM

    for me most disturbing is that i didn’t find any report on this in leading urdu newspapers today


  • abdul karim
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:57PM



  • Shahid
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:16AM

    Religion is the opium of masses.KarlMax. how prophetic. Pakistanis are in grip of addiction


  • Shahid
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:19AM

    Any sue-motto action Mr.Chief justice ???


  • Khalq e Khuda
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:20AM

    Thank you Mr President; please also advise all your party members to condemn this act.

    Punjab government, Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan are hand in hand with these criminal. Asia bibi is still in jail and Lahore High Court has not seen it fit to hold a single hearing of her appeal.

    About time you throw back the stay order back in the face of Lahore High Court and pardon Asia bibi to send a strong message to these barbarians.


  • kashan
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:22AM

    Mr. President!!! Please take strict action against the culprits. Because no one is above from the law.


  • Asad Malik
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:33AM

    This proves why such people should not be allowed to vote. I can bet my life on the fact that NONE of these people would have read or understood the Holy book which they are so called protecting.Recommend

  • SaqibTahir
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:40AM

    Zardari is the only leader who has guts to talk against barbarianisn and religious extremism.
    Judges, generals, Mullas and ziaist politicians like Imran and Shareefs get paralysis of tongue. Media is silent.


  • JSM
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:55AM

    Was he a Hindu?


  • Babloo
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:05AM

    The man was in police custody. So the police know about the edentity/name of the man. Why do no reports mention his name ? Is there something fishy here ?


  • gp65
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:06AM

    @jibran: “Each day in life is like winning a jackpot”.

    I feel the depth of your pain and despair. It is a sad fact that you and millions of fellow Pakistanis have to pay the price for living in a highly radicalized society in terms of great insecurity of life and property due to high level of ongoing hate crimes. I hope for all your sakes that you get leadership in your country that decides to take the bull by the horn and address these issues.

    It is not that we do not have radicalized people in India – we do. But they are becoming increasingly marginalized and this is reflected in the fact that we have had no comuncal riots in the last 10 years.


  • Asif
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:39AM

    These killers need to be dealt in Sharia Court.


  • Faheem
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:42AM

    It has nothing to do with Islam. It is just reflectiong hatred towards humanity.


  • Wajahat Laeeq
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:46AM

    Pakistan is becoming Impossible case.


  • Imran Con
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:03AM

    The most debilitating thing to ridding a country of such a thing is that without visible protection from it and concrete objections to it there’s really only one result: The people against it are made into new targets as supporters of blasphemers. That’s the “extreme” in extremist. There is no middle ground. Talking is a form of middle ground. You have no choice but to be forceful in the end. Sure, politicians in public view have to go through the motions of middle ground to be seen as “doing it the right way” but if they’re not prepared to meet them on their own level and come out on top, they’ll fail in the end. Failing with added detrimental consequences that strengthen those extremists. There’s nothing better than having the most powerful people of a country submitting to you at any point along the process to bolster your own cause, violent or otherwise.
    Go wholeheartedly and win or keep playing it like you always do and get eroded over time and toppled or toppled all at once.


  • Mr S
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:35AM

    Why such incidents occur in Punjab mostly ?


  • Witness
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:36AM

    Pakistani society has become savage, brutal and malevolent in its expression of rabid religious extremism. Where does the social death spiral end?


  • gp65
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:34AM

    @Faheem: “It has nothing to do with Islam. It is just reflectiong hatred towards humanity.”

    I agree it may not have to do with Islam. It does however have to do with Muslims. Muslims who are preached hatred in the madrassas they go to by aggressive intolerant mullahs. Without getting a control on these mullahs and madrassahs, Islam’s message will continue to be distorted because others will judge Islam based on behaviors of its follows.

    Now people will quote examples of the Norwegian terrorists and say it cannot be blamed on Christianity – it is an individual act. True enough. But that man did not say his actions were in compliance with his religion. These misguided people most likely think they did a GOOD thing for their religion by brutally killing that man. That is the difference.


  • Alien
    Jul 6, 2012 - 4:37AM

    I want to know does Mr President get shock on the continuous killing going on by his own party and the coalition partners?


  • obaid
    Jul 6, 2012 - 5:53AM

    @ S

    Its because you haven’t paid attention to the violence in Liyari.


  • Ali Abbas
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:12AM

    Why are we so insecure about our religion and religiosity – who care what anybody says – we have to create a sacredness about religion in our heart and our souls.


  • Parvez Amin
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:23AM

    Mr President, if you don’t change the law one can only conclude that you are not interested in improving conditions in Pakistan.


  • Omer
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:59AM

    Stop making promises and do something! It is people like you that are just as guilty Mr. President!


  • Mei
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:01AM

    What was the religion of the man?


  • HH
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:00AM

    Astaghfir-ullah! Where are we going? This is barbarianism. If we turn back the pages of history, we will find many such blashphemy cases during early 200-300 years of Islam. But the question is that were they all treated this way? O God! Please guide us!


  • Nasamajh
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:54AM

    why I see so many Indians getting worried about what is happening in Pakistan..my dear neighbours there is a lot more worse going on on your side please first fix it and then comment on our affairs.. thank you!


  • jack
    Jul 6, 2012 - 10:04AM

    Those who burnt him alive, iam sure non of them had read Quran..


  • MJ
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:17PM

    No suo motu notice, my Lord ?


  • Ehtesham
    Jul 6, 2012 - 12:31PM

    Not Shocked at all its not something new it happened before and it will happen again when a country is run by idiots then violence murder Corruption prevails and out of this chaos people are looking for closure well its sad so sad because there is ant any its like the energy crisis started three decades ago and still today its on going and it will remain like that sad governments will come and go but corruption will remain but faces will change and still poor will not get educated for reason that they could vote for new and old faces but fact is we are surrounded by idiots of politician who are national of foreign countries have home money in foreign countries but they want to work for the interest of people here isn’t that odd even strange………Recommend

  • Tughral
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:05PM

    The police shouldve opened fire on the crowd instead of trying to teargas them into submission. Unless a strong response is given by the state somewhere on this issue you can be sure to expect other instances in the next few months/ years.


  • Naveed Javed
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:06PM

    Let the law be repealed by the current Parliament!


  • Lalai
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:25PM

    I can bet no suo moto notice will be taken against this incident for some quite obvious reasons.


  • Zalmai
    Jul 6, 2012 - 5:52PM

    These barbaric acts are a direct manifestation of the jihadi culture and the zeal of the newly converted that carry out such attacks with an absolutely clear conscience. Law enforcement should be implemented with the same zeal of the jihadi to counter this menace.


  • xyz
    Jul 6, 2012 - 5:54PM

    “President Zardari said that no one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands no matter what the crime is.”

    Law is the word unkown in Pakistan!!


  • Anonymous
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:52PM

    I agree. The blashemy law needs to be repealed. But I agree more with Mr Asad. The mentality behind the murders of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti & showering of rose petals on Taseer’s killer (that too in court) or lynching of a deranged person who desecrated Muslim Holy Book is the main problem. Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:59PM

    I agree. The blashemy law needs to be repealed. But I agree more with Mr Asad. The mentality behind the murders of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti & showering of rose petals on Taseer’s killer (that too in court) or lynching of a deranged person who desecrated Muslim Holy Book is the main problem.Recommend

  • Tahir
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:12PM

    I’m shocked.

    People here are taking about changing the law, just leave this for a second and tell me how would have changing the law helped the poor man? I am not sure.

    Surely the problem here is not about any law, rather problem lies with the people. These people are criminals and you people think that by introducing or demolishing any law would effect them???? If they had been law abiding citizens, they won’t have done this in the first place.


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:27PM

    No suo moto now . Mr, President now hit the root couse of such incidents in one stroke and declair the state secular as per the wishes of Jinnah- the father of the nation . Any demonstration against your wise step to save the nation should be delt with iron hand including the judiciary and religious parties without any hesitation as Mush did it in Red star operation .



  • Anwar Ul-Haq
    Jul 7, 2012 - 1:34AM

    It is very very tragic indeed. What is more disturbing is that this news is not in many other mainstream papers. What type of people and society are we turning into?
    With regards to the comments by mr rightly rightist, please remind me where the Babri mosque incident took place, where did the riots took place in which women and children had kerosene poured down their thoats and burtn alive by Hindu mobs and where and by whom was the Samjohta express bombed killing dozens of innocent people?


  • Don
    Jul 7, 2012 - 3:27AM

    I’m really surprised that no one points finger at the West, yet…


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Jul 7, 2012 - 5:09AM

    Some one in the above comment has doubt about the religious tolrence of we Indians living in a secular state . The incidents he sited are again the repurcussions of intolrent attitude of maderssa products being created due to religious freedom in a hindu majority state.


  • babar
    Jul 7, 2012 - 5:54AM

    Its just so shameful .. we shouldnt allo anyone to burn the pages of holy quran .. but if a man is mentally upste then we can reprieve him and plus even if he is mentally stable we shouldnt take law in hand and no one gives us right to burn someone alive even people burnt quran and all osrts in prophet pbuh era but he didnt order to burn someone alive or kill them like this its pure and utter illetrate act .. just so sad .. wonder where our society is heading . this whole act is so shameful we just making headlines for all wrong reasons …


  • Hairaan
    Jul 7, 2012 - 11:28AM

    Why President gets shocked when his coalition partners kill around 10 opponents everyday in Karachi?


  • Lupo
    Jul 13, 2012 - 7:05AM

    Mob justice? More like injustice.

    They killed an unarmed, mentally ill man.

    They killed in the name of God. And yet they say he was crazy?

    Pakistanis. Demonstrating daily how Islam is the ‘religion of peace’.


  • Tashfeen A. Majid
    Sep 2, 2012 - 10:09PM

    I agree with most of what you said, but you are absolutely wrong in saying that “We’ve let religion take over our minds to such an extent that we can’t differentiate between right and wrong.”

    Religion never preaches punishing someone without a proper trial, or someone getting punished without an appointed Qaazi’s decision (that would be the court in our system today), let alone burning someone alive in front of Police. Don’t blame stupidity of people on the religion, it has nothing to do with it.

    These people are far from religion, they don’t even know the ABC of Islaam, and you say that have taken religion to a greater extent. They wouldn’t be doing this if they were acting upon the religion on a great extent.

    These people are barbarians in the guise of Islaam. They think that Islaam is just limited to Namaaz, Roza, Hajj, and Jihaad (and their definition of Jihaad). Islaam is much more than that. Islaam, when followed properly, is the best way of life; nothing can be better than what Allah Subhana Wa Taala has chosen for us. And If we take it to a greater extent, then we can only be better, like Prophets and Angels, not animals like these angry mobs.

    Please choose your words carefully next time.


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