Pakistan police arrest 23 involved in Swat lynching incident

The hunt is underway to nab the others involved in the crime

Pakistan lynching incident Images gone viral on social media showing a man being burnt to death for alleged blasphemy | X

Pakistan police have arrested over 20 people in connection with the alleged lynching of a tourist in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swan district on Sunday. 

Muhammad Ismail, 40, of Sialkot in Punjab province was gunned down by a group of people. Later he was dragged through town and hanged in public in Madyan tehsil. The police had apprehended Ismail over the alleged desecration of the Quran. 

The enraged mob had also set the Madyan police state on fire, where Ismail was held. 

Ismail was accused of having burnt the pages of Islam's holy book. As many as five police personnel and 11 locals were injured in the incident.

Police arrested 23 people for alleged involvement in Ismail's lynching and the arson attack on the Madyan police station, Geo News reported.

Reportedly, those arrested were shifted to an undisclosed location while efforts were underway to arrest others involved in the incident.

Members of the mob had been identified, and "efforts for their arrest are underway, the report said, quoting Swat District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Zaman Shah.

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

Shah said that the suspect was a “drug addict” and had been booked in a case of domestic violence earlier. 

On Saturday, Pakistan's Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal condemned the lynching. 

We must take notice of this incident as our nation is on the brink. We have now reached a point where we are using religion to justify mob violence and street justice, flagrantly violating the Constitution, the law and the state, Iqbal said.

Pakistan made blasphemy punishable by death in 1980 during the military dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq as part of a drive to Islamise the state. Though no one has ever been executed by the state, blasphemy convictions are common in Pakistan, including multiple incidents of mob violence. 

Recently, armed mobs had attacked two churches in Punjab province’s Jaranwala town accusing two Christian residents of blasphemy. Videos doing rounds on social media showed hundreds armed with batons and sticks attacking the Salvation Army Church and the Saint Paul Catholic Church. While many houses were set ablaze, many others suffered heavy damage.  


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