Imam of a local mosque incited murder of Christian couple, says police

Published: November 5, 2014
The place where the mob burned Christian couple to ashes. PHOTO: MALIK SHAFIQ/EXPRESS

The place where the mob burned Christian couple to ashes. PHOTO: MALIK SHAFIQ/EXPRESS

The place where the mob burned Christian couple to ashes. PHOTO: MALIK SHAFIQ/EXPRESS Enraged mob beat couple to death near Lahore, burnt their bodies for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: Police clarified on Wednesday that the murder of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy was incited by an Imam of a local mosque.

An enraged mob on November 4 beat the couple to death and then burnt their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked, for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

The incident took place in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres from Lahore, and is the latest example of mob violence against minorities accused of blasphemy. The victims were only identified by their first names, Shama and Shehzad, and were a married couple.

“We have arrested 44 people, it was a local issue incited by the mullah of a local mosque,” Jawad Qamar, a regional police chief, told Reuters.

“No particular sectarian group or religious outfit was behind the attack,” Qamar added.

Police arrested 44 suspects in relation to the incident and filed cases against 468 others.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the murderers of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy will be brought to justice.

“The brutal murder of the Christian couple in Kot Radha Krishan is an unacceptable crime,” the premier stated.

“A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity,” he added.

PM Nawaz has directed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to show no mercy and allow the law to take its course to punish those responsible.

“The Pakistani state has to act proactively to protect its minorities from violence and injustice. We must promote religious and ethnic diversity in our society as a virtue,” the PM further said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had also constituted a three-member committee to fast track the investigation of the killings and ordered police to beef up security at Christian neighbourhoods in the province.

Amnesty International calls for justice

Global rights watchdog Amnesty International has asked Pakistan to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of the Christian couple.

“This vicious mob killing is just the latest manifestation of the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation – although religious minorities are disproportionately vulnerable. Those responsible must be brought to justice and the Pakistani authorities have to ensure at-risk communities are proactively given the protection they need,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director David Griffiths.

“The blasphemy laws violate international human rights law and standards and should be reformed as a matter of urgency to provide effective safeguards against their abuse, with a view to their eventual repeal. Consistent failure by the government to tackle violence in the name of religion has effectively sent the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defence of religious sentiments,” he added.

Referring to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s decision to form a three-member committee and to increase security at Christian neighbourhoods in the province, Griffiths said, “The local government’s response is encouraging, but it remains to be seen what comes of the investigation. The climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan is pervasive, and it is all too rare that those behind attacks are held to account.”

PPP condemns 

Strongly condemning violence against the Christian couple, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) demanded that the culprits be arrested and given exemplary punishment.

PPP’s Human Rights Cell central coordinator Dr Nafisa Shah called for a judicial inquiry into the misuse of blasphemy laws so that adequate amendments can be made against those who wrongfully accuse others.

Shah further said the misuse of these laws has led to constant insecurity among the minorities and has allowed people to take law into their own hands. “It has also made it increasingly difficult for the judiciary to do justice as it is under pressure from religious zealots,” she added.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (46)

  • 357
    Nov 5, 2014 - 1:06PM

    I write and backspace repeatedly as my mind goes numb halfway. Mind you, it’s not the killing of a couple that agonises me. Seen plenty of that. It’s the picture of a mob of 500-plus madmen ganging up to kill a couple that haunts me. My in-laws are the only Muslim family in a small Saskatchewan, Canada hamlet. I shudder to think what would happen if a hundred or so people there gang up to harm them.
    Here lies the difference. That will NEVER happen in Canada. And that would keep on happening in Pakistan for as long as we remain a nation of intolerant bigots.


  • Prada
    Nov 5, 2014 - 1:31PM

    Pakistan is actually a nation !!


  • Indian Catholic
    Nov 5, 2014 - 1:37PM

    With 44 suspects in police custody and cases against 468 others, it is obvious that all of them will be let away scot-free and not a single person would be actually convicted.

    In cases such as these, it is important that the state identifies the ring-leader and successfully ensures exemplary punishment to that person. I have yet to see the courts in Pakistan prosecute any high profile individual for any attack on minorities.


  • Old Ravian
    Nov 5, 2014 - 2:48PM

    Spread the responsibility over a thousand odd people and then stretch the case till everything is forgotten. That is how the justice is done in Pakistan. One may ask what happened to the case of an under age who was accused of blasphemy in Islamabad. She has been taken abroad and the prayer leader who made the accusations is back in business. So no logical ending was reached.


  • Feroz
    Nov 5, 2014 - 2:54PM

    This is a test case and we need to see whether this case is simply window dressing or the government and Courts will proceed speedily in the matter and sentence the accused. Has the SHO under whose watch it happened been suspended ?


  • Socrates
    Nov 5, 2014 - 2:55PM

    Looking at the situation in a positive light, this was the perfect show of unity from our nation when our noble religion is at stake. This will hopefully serve as a deterrent against any future misadventures by anyone.


  • James
    Nov 5, 2014 - 2:57PM

    Poor Christians of Pakistan…….they believed in the false promise of Jinnah……they didn’t even think that how can they survive in a country which came into existence in the name of one particular religion….and this generation of Christians is paying the price of the bad decisions took by the older generation.


  • Omer
    Nov 5, 2014 - 3:01PM

    I am against this blasphemy law. It should be removed from our Constitution asap.
    And for all those who are mentally sick you are allowed to pass a fatwa of Kafur against me.


  • Aphelion
    Nov 5, 2014 - 3:14PM

    Will those arrested be punished or cheered? It is Pakistan after all.


  • Asif
    Nov 5, 2014 - 3:29PM

    If United States means what it states throughout the World that it wants to do good then impose sanctions, draconion sanctions on Pakistan, until justice is carried out and killers are punished according to the law.


  • Parvez
    Nov 5, 2014 - 3:30PM

    All political parties will make the right noises and do nothing concrete…….and this too shall pass.


  • Ghostrider
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:09PM

    These thugs are an illiterate bunch brainwashed by the mullahs who themselves know nothing about Islam. Muslims talk about Islamophobia, this is what is causing Islamophobia. Introspect, for heaven’s sake, introspect.


  • Sarfaraz Abbasi
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:19PM

    Our Punjabi brothers talk about ‘Lahore’ being vibrant etc – but this is the bitter truth of how Lahore turns out to be than you hear ‘Lahore, Lahore e’


  • unbelievable
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:25PM

    Not one politician is going to stand up and say time to eliminate Blasphemy law – and that silence guarantees that Christians and other minorities will remain targets.


  • Faisal
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:30PM

    Just to remind you that similar incidents have happened in India as well, so please do not divert the issue into an ideology debate. However, it must stop, and my condolences goes with the Christian community.


  • saad saeed
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:52PM

    Justice will be delivered says the Prime Minister under whose brother’s rule in Punjab Mob Justice was delivered in Gojra and Joseph colony


  • saad saeed
    Nov 5, 2014 - 4:54PM

    Actually he is referring to “Mob justice”. No need to assure us dear PM, we know that the in the coming days Punjab will be famous for its “Justice” system


  • Whiskey Khan
    Nov 5, 2014 - 5:08PM

    I am not to crazy about religion but must have done something right to be living in a country where I will never be brutalized or burnt alive for critical thinking about religion.


  • antony
    Nov 5, 2014 - 5:22PM

    This incident should be highly publicised in all western countries (Christian) and local newspapers where significant muslim immigrants(pakistanis) live. The moment christians in western countries ask muslims immigrants (pakistan) what is happening in your country pakistan and there will be pressure from overseas pakistanis due to threat on their livelihood. Thats one way to put pressure and other way is to stop aid altogether into pakistan. Only after Blasphemy law is removed then aid will flow again.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 5, 2014 - 6:00PM

    Arresting 44 people and charging another 468 people for murder of one couple means Case Dismissed. Unfortunately Prime Minister can make political statements but on the ground its Police and Judiciary which call the shots. If Police had been serious it would have charged one or two masterminds and made them example. As a villager I know these games.


  • Jadugar
    Nov 5, 2014 - 6:29PM

    @ Antony, I am an overseas Muslim Pakistani and I am 100% with you on this. I have always advocated against religious extremism, especially in Middle East and Pakistan…I hear you


  • Shahid
    Nov 5, 2014 - 6:42PM

    I agree.People in thiscountry have build up false idealogies and will do everthing to defend it.People do not want to face any truth and are very happy and content with those ideas.They do not want to face the truth.


  • Nov 5, 2014 - 6:52PM

    The mob killed the Christian couple on the advice of a Mullah. What would have happened if the same Mullah filed a case against them under blasphemy? Both will get death sentence by our nonsense courts. Here the culprit is Mullah, the barbarian.


  • tahir
    Nov 5, 2014 - 7:17PM

    @ socrate
    realy pethatic. In my view before prosecuting brutal killer people like u should be prosecuted as the real culprits are people like you.Recommend

  • Wizarat
    Nov 5, 2014 - 7:28PM

    Please do not count it not happening in Canada or the US. The ideology behind this evil act is known as Salafism and is the same as ISIS and the Saudis promote. It is only a matter of time 357, it has started already happening in Europe and North America.


  • Wizarat
    Nov 5, 2014 - 7:31PM

    Is the so called Mullah being charged with 1st degree murder and his ideology being banned in Pakistan?

    Statements are fine but what ever happened to the Ahmadi Killers? the Shia Muslim Killers? and the Quetta massacres?

    May be the tribune could provide an update on cases for the last 5 years?

    I wouldn’t hold my breath as the journalists/proprietors are running scared.


  • anwar kamal
    Nov 5, 2014 - 8:35PM

    We want justice.


  • Amir
    Nov 5, 2014 - 8:41PM

    So with all the arrests, did they arrest the mullah???

    He should be tried on blasphemy case and sentenced to death immediately…like all minorities are in such cases…with no appeal or suo mottos.


  • Naeem Khan
    Nov 5, 2014 - 8:58PM

    “The brutal murder of the Christian couple in Kot Radha Krishan is an unacceptable crime,” the premier stated.” This is just the rhetoric from this man who wanted to become Ameer-ul-Momineen. The fact is that this draconian law should be abolished once for all, BB could or did not do it, Mush did not do it although he was a dictator and now we can’t expect NS to do it because it was him who supported it in the first place when his mentor that despicable dictator Zia was in power who gave this perpetual curse to the nation of Pakistan. Is there any leader or a statesman in the country with the guts to repeal this God forsaken law, how many more innocent people has to die for the crimes of that dictator and his disciples.


  • Gp65
    Nov 5, 2014 - 9:19PM

    This wasn’t a show of unity to protect Islam. This was intolerance and bigotry. Islam khatre mein nahin hai. It was ot in khatra when Bahadurshah Zafar died. It was it in khatra when Nizam stopped ruling Hyderabad. The number of Muslims has ot reduced, it has increased. As long as Muslims have imaan, Islam will not have any khatra. Stop the paranoia and stop the killing.


  • Arsha
    Nov 5, 2014 - 11:03PM

    And your comment just represents what is so wrong in Pakistan that even an educated person can make such a comment like you did.
    Brutality, religious blindness, approval of violence, fanaticism, bigotry….. You showed it all.


  • SHN
    Nov 6, 2014 - 12:37AM

    Pakistan’s worst enemy, the mullahRecommend

  • Basit
    Nov 6, 2014 - 12:38AM

    So now that we know who instigated this I guess we’d better get the rose petals ready!

    Sentenced to death immediately? First they have to gather evidence and then try a case. A case can run for decades in Pakistan and the judges will decide whether the man is guilty or not.


  • Rex Minor
    Nov 6, 2014 - 1:04AM

    @Naeem Khan:

    You most probably missed out as to who are now running the enterprise of the State in Pakisan these days. They are Sharif Brothers who are calling the shots, riding roughshod on citizens rights throughout the country, displacing millions in the tribal territory in pursuit of so called terrorism, with the assistance of the military as well as routing civilians demonstrators with the help of local d police and gendarmes rangers and constablry forces and allowing riff raff village lunatics to pounce on specific groups to implement the country blesphamic laws. The minorities have no status in their Raj, other than the merciful attention of the rulers, one brother ordering the other to call for a commission enquiry, the usual ploy which the Government uses to put out a smoke screen and defer the case until the new victims are reported. It would seem that the constitutional paradigma in Pakistan allows the Prime Minister to act like a dictator without any immunity during the lease period which get once they are elected. The minorities need urgently the protection of the UNO contingent, which the world community must now forcefully demand.

    Rex Minor


  • Baji Jee
    Nov 6, 2014 - 1:17AM

    I feel sick!


  • Sal
    Nov 6, 2014 - 1:58AM

    Pakistan is a sick nation. Its people are backward, regressive and deeply hateful. They cant change anything.


  • Salman Hasan
    Nov 6, 2014 - 4:26AM

    After hearing about this incident, it made me cry and feel completely lost. I never imagined that Pakistan will become like this in just 60 plus years. If this is how the country is going to treat the minorities, then they should remove the White band from the National Flag and announce that minorities are not allowed to have any rights in this country. The irony is that even Police was called, and they probably just witnessed the entire mob killing and did not stop anyone from taking law into their own hands. This is a perfect example of how jungle should look like. I am ashamed of myself to even tell others here in the US that I am from Pakistan. Another sad part of this entire episode is that nobody in the government will take the blame or resign. After this issue will cool off in the press, they will release everyone who was arrested. This is the reality and we will all witness this happening.


  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 6, 2014 - 5:04AM

    Although any violent death is one too many, and the Pakistan Government needs to lift its game in regard to blasphemy laws, it should be realized that the tragic deaths of the Christian couple were the result of unlawful behavior. Also, it should be understood that although Pakistan has been subject to terrorism killings it still ranks as one of the least violent countries in the world. For example current ranking of the US, Pakistan and India is 92, 99, 100, having violent death rates for the US of 6.5 per 100,000, Pakistan 5.0 per 100,000, India 4.8 per 100,000 people. Of course, Pakistan still has some catching up to do when compared to Japan, which ranks at 197 with a violent death rate of 0.4 per 100,000.


  • csmann
    Nov 6, 2014 - 7:05AM

    It is the fate of Pakistan to take one step forward and take two steps backwards.And the worst thing is it is done in the name of religion.A religion so unsure of itself that it needs protection even in a overwhelmingly Muslim state.


  • JSM
    Nov 6, 2014 - 7:05AM

    “Just to remind you that similar incidents have happened in India as well”

    Does it justify such things happening in Pakistan?

    Yes there are such cases in India- the preparators have been sentenced to life imprisonment- and it means imprisonment for life. Can we hope to see this in Pakistan?


  • Javed
    Nov 6, 2014 - 7:11AM

    They change the law to arrest both partie in blasphemy case till justice decide by HC.
    Also make false blasphemy charge is a blashphemy. In case of minor arrest parents.

    Those changes will make people think twice about taking opportunity of the law. Arab
    intellectual should clear the confusion on blasphemy.

  • Naseem
    Nov 6, 2014 - 9:07AM

    It is incredible that those who claim to believe that Allah is the creator of the universe and has power over everything also seem to think that He needs their protection. Each of us is responsible for our own actions, and is supposed to work to improve our own behavior rather than sitting in judgement on fellow human beings all of whom have been created by Allah.


  • AwaTan
    Nov 6, 2014 - 12:39PM

    So you give lessons to people this way.. Good keep going… this is how you and people like you have ruined Islam and Muslims. God Bless you


  • Faisal
    Nov 6, 2014 - 12:56PM

    I wish you have read the whole comment ! We as a common people are dying to see major reforms happening in our governance. The injustices are not just limited to the minorities, which is a common perception.


  • Afaq Alam
    Nov 6, 2014 - 8:11PM

    This is very much frustration for all of us Pakistani. The Punjab Government should take Strict action against the responsible persons. especially against the Mullah/Imam who gave the order to kill this innocent couple.Please do not leave the persons who are responsible and follow up to them till death. If you do not do this, GOD knows better about all of you and He will return you.


  • ahmed
    Nov 10, 2014 - 10:03PM

    I agree with all of you that mob should not decide the crime.

    But why are you people so aggressive? Law of a country do need to be followed . who the heck is, who tries to blasphame the sacred things of a Nation, if he really did.

    Was he/she an ediot? ……….Everyone in a country please give respect to that country or leave it rather than abusing it and getting blow in face. ………..No rational person will neglect the law present.


More in Pakistan