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Sunday July 21, 2024

Police arrest over two dozen people as Swat lynching probe continues

Those apprehended over alleged involvement in incident have been shifted to "unknown" location, say police

By Mehboob Ali
June 23, 2024
Burnt furniture at the Madyan Police Station can be seen following an attack by a violent mob in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. — Screengrab via Geo News/File
Burnt furniture at the Madyan Police Station can be seen following an attack by a violent mob in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. — Screengrab via Geo News/File

Police have arrested more than two dozen people over their alleged involvement in the lynching and killing of a person and arson attack on a police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swat, police told Geo News Sunday.

The police have shifted the 23 arrested individuals to an unknown location while efforts are underway to arrest others who were allegedly involved in the incident.

The arrests come after violent 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.

A day earlier, a report by a federal agency had revealed that the hotel management had asked the deceased, accused of blasphemy, to open the door.

The accused, the report added, had then opened the door and denied the allegations of blasphemy, after which the police took him to the police station — a move criticised in the report which termed it as a "grave" mistake.

The report further says that 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.

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

Furthermore, the report mentions that the accused was in police custody for around 40 minutes during which he denied the blasphemy allegations hurled against him.

The report said that an exchange of fire also took place between the mob and police during which 11 people and five cops sustained injuries. The mob set on fire the building of the police station, a police van, five other vehicles and two motorcycles, The News reported on Sunday.

However, Swat's district police officer has expressed ignorance about any such report, saying the investigation in the case was still ongoing and its report will be sent to the IGP as well as the government.

Meanwhile, a joint investigation team (JIT) including Additional Inspector General Special Branch Kashif Alam and Additional IGP Investigation Alam Shinwari visited the place of the incident and collected evidence from the room of a local hotel where the deceased Sulaiman, a resident of Sialkot, was staying, The News reported on Sunday.

The JIT, established under Superintendent of Police Investigation Badshah Hazrat, will also have members from Intelligence Bureau, Special Branch and other departments.

Earlier, the DPO had said that 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.