LAHORE: At least 85 people have been arrested for lynching a mentally deranged man in a village of Khanewal district in Pakistan's Punjab province for alleged blasphemy, according to local media.
The News International quoting provincial police reported that arrest and identification were underway on Sunday with the help of video footage. A mob stoned a middle-aged man to death in a village of Khanewal district on Saturday.
The event occurred in Jungle Dera village when hundreds of locals gathered after Maghrib prayers following reports that a man had torn and set fire some pages of the Quran. The villagers hung the suspect with a tree and then hit him with bricks till he died. No one was willing to listen to him when he claimed innocence, reported Dawn.
According to an eyewitness, a police team arrived in the village long before the stoning and caught the culprit, but the crowd seized him from the hands of the SHO's custody. IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan was asked to provide a report by the Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar.
The killing comes at a time when in a similar event in Sialkot last December, a Sri Lankan engineer was killed by manufacturing workers for blasphemy, reported the newspaper. Notably, Pakistan reported a total of 1,415 cases of blasphemy in the country since 1947, a think tank, Centre for Research and Security Studies, said.
According to the think tank report, a total of 18 women and 71 men were extra-judicially killed over blasphemy from 1947 to 2021. However, as per the think tank, the actual number of cases is believed to be higher as not all cases are reported.
"The actual number is believed to be higher because not all blasphemy cases get reported in the press," the report said, adding more than 70 per cent of the accused were reported from Punjab.