PESHAWAR: A man was brutally thrashed inside a mosque today by a mob of angry worshippers who accused him of committing blasphemy following Friday prayers in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, days after a journalism student was killed over a similar allegation.
The man, who was not immediately identified, allegedly pushed the imam of the mosque in a bid to speak up after jummah prayers in Chitral area, an eyewitness was quoted as saying by Dawn News. He said the man then uttered "blasphemous remarks", the report said.
As worshippers began beating him, the mosque's imam, fearing for the man's life, called the police. Police took the man to the local police station for his protection. They said they were trying to ascertain the man's mental health. The mob, meanwhile, tried to break into the police station to attack the man.
Police had to open fire in the air and lob tear gas shells to disperse the agitating crowd. The firing resulted in power outages nearby as transmission lines were damaged by bullets. "The situation is under control now.
A team of doctors will file a detail report about his mental health," Deputy Commissioner Chitral Shahab Yousafzai said. A case has been filed against the man over charges of blasphemy and terrorism, the officer said.
The situation, however, remained volatile, the report said. The Frontier Constabulary also reached the police station to maintain law and order, police said, adding that "3,000 to 4,000 people" were still present outside the police station.
The incident comes days after Mashal Khan, who studied journalism at the Abdukl Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was mercilessly beaten and then shot dead by a vigilante mob of students from the same varsity, suspecting him of publishing blasphemous content online and promoting the Ahmadi faith.
The April 13 incident had triggered widespread condemnation with Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, anguished by the lynching, saying Pakistanis themselves are responsible for tarnishing the image of Islam and the country.