LAHORE: A policeman used an axe to kill a man arrested for allegedly committing blasphemy, officials said Thursday, days after an enraged mob murdered a Christian couple accused of the same crime.
Tufail Haider, a 50-year-old member of the Shia sect, was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks toward the companions of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and brought to the Civil Lines police station in the eastern city of Gujrat on Wednesday.
“Tufail was kept in the lock-up but he continued uttering derogatory remarks and hurled abuse at policemen. He looked like a malang (wandering preacher) and seemed mentally imbalanced,” duty officer Ali Raza told AFP.
“Assistant Sub-Inspector Faraz Naveed, 36, became very angry on hearing the derogatory remarks against the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and he killed the detainee with an axe in the lock up,” he added.
Naveed has been arrested and legal proceedings have been started against him, he added.
Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 per cent of the country’s 180 million-strong population, most of whom are Muslim.
There has been a recent surge in extra-judicial killings linked to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
A Christian bonded labourer and his pregnant wife were killed Tuesday for alleged desecrating pages of the Holy Quran in the eastern village of Chak 59, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman lost an appeal last month.
The latest incident also has shades of the shooting in September of an elderly British man with severe mental illness, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in January.
An internal investigation has found that the guard had been radicalised and goaded into the shooting by Mumtaz Qadri, a police bodyguard who murdered the Punjab governor in 2011 for suggesting reform of the blasphemy laws.
In Gujrat alone, three persons have been killed on the account of police torture.
Just last month, an individual on a Rawalpindi-bound train was beaten to death by police after a fight broke out between him and another passenger.
While on October 4, police allegedly tortured a woman to death during a raid in Sargodha.