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Monday July 22, 2024

Swat lynching case report reveals 'grave mistake' by police

Federal agency report highlights police's "negligence" in dealing with blasphemy suspect, beaten to death by mob

By Abubakar Saddiq & Shakeel Farman Ali
June 22, 2024
Madyan Police Station set on fire by a mob on June 20, 2024. — By reporter
Madyan Police Station set on fire by a mob on June 20, 2024. — By reporter

PESHAWAR: A report by a federal agency on the matter of a man's mob lynching over alleged blasphemy in Swat has revealed that police made a "grave mistake" by shifting the suspect to the Madyan Police Station instead of a "safe" place. 

A mob had beaten a local tourist to death on Thursday night after accusing him of desecrating the Holy Quran, and later set his body as well as the Madyan Police Station ablaze. Several policemen were also injured during the ransacking of the police station.

The authorities concerned initiated an investigation to identify and arrest members of the mob and a recent report highlighted "negligence" by the police in dealing with the blasphemy suspect. 

It stated that "the suspect denied committing blasphemy in police custody", but neither the station house officer (SHO) of the said police station took guidance from the higher-ups on the matter nor shifted the suspect to a "safe" spot.

Absence of high police officials or political leaders during the mob violence also contributed to the loss, it added.

As per the report, 11 individuals including five policemen were injured in the arson, during which two motorcycles and five vehicles were also set ablaze.

Moreover, the office of deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and SHO's quarter were also damaged during the violence.

FIRs lodged against 'blasphemy', mob attack

Meanwhile, Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Zaman Shah said on Saturday that the members of the mob had been identified and "efforts for their arrest are underway".

He said that two first information reports (FIR) had also been registered under the charges of blasphemy and damaging state property, respectively.

The official further said that the suspect was reportedly a drug addict and had been booked in a case of domestic violence on the complaint of his mother.

Meanwhile, DSP Zaman Shah said that killing a man for alleged blasphemy is a tragedy. He said that taking the blasphemy suspect to the police station was a "compulsion" as there was no other way.

The official seconded the DPO's statement, saying that evidence for the suspect's drug addiction and "mental illness" had been found. However, nothing can be said with surety without a complete investigation, he added.

The last case of lynching on charges of blasphemy came earlier this month, when a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Holy Quran and later died of his injuries in Sargodha, Punjab.

In 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched in one of the highest-profile incidents in the country. Six people were sentenced to death for their part in the lynching after the incident sparked a global outcry.