NationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 15

Another case of mob lynching

The PTI government has utterly failed to protect the lives of people by establishing the rule of law in the country. Intolerant and religiously extremist people are killing their fellow men in the presence of police without any fear and regret. Mob lynching has become a routine matter in Pakistan which is very unfortunate and dangerous for the country.

Another case of mob lynching occurred last month in Khanewal in the presence of police, which showed a complete breakdown of law and order and the failure of the justice system.

According to reports, hundreds of people gathered in Jungle Dera village after Maghrib prayers, following announcements that a man had desecrated the Holy Quran. The mob got hold of Mushtaq Rajput, son of Bashir Ahmed of Chak 12, Khanewal, and started beating him. The police reached the spot and arrested Mushtaq, but the mob snatched him again and beat him up before stoning him to death after tying him to a tree.

The victim had been mentally unsound for a long time. According to his brother, Mushatq had been under treatment for years.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands and mob lynching will be dealt with full severity of the law. I have asked the Punjab IG for a report on action taken against the perpetrators of the lynching in Mian Channu and against the police who failed in their duty.”

Reacting to the incident, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “Events like the Mian Channu tragedy after the Sialkot incident are a moment of reflection for us and the government should conduct a transparent investigation into the tragedy and those responsible should be punished. The mob killings are a question mark on the government’s writ”.

“Incidents like the Sialkot tragedy and Mian Channu lynching are an outcome of the educational system enforced in the country for decades,” Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said, adding that the matter was both about the implementation of law and deterioration of society. The minister warned of major destruction if “reforms are not made at school, police station and pulpit level.”

Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said: “The mob lynching of a man in Mian Channu is condemnable and cannot be allowed to go unpunished. The Punjab government must immediately take action against the police that watched it happen and the perpetrators. Laws exist – the police must enforce these laws and not allow mobs to rule the day”.

In a statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said: “The state has consistently pandered to political and religious groups that have never had any qualms about encouraging religious fanaticism. The HRCP notes with grave concern a seeming uptick in mob vigilantism and warns the government that, if it does not push back against fanaticism on all fronts, it is ordinary citizens who will continue to pay the price.”

The tragic incident occurred hardly 10 weeks after the lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot. In November, religious fanatics had set a Charsadda police station on fire after police officials refused to hand over an alleged blasphemy suspect to them.

After every tragic incident, the PM and ministers condemn the incident and pledge to take “every step” for stopping these kinds of incidents. But, practically, they are doing nothing. It is a bitter fact that the government has been mollycoddling extremist forces for achieving and protecting its partisan interests.

Farrukh Khan Pitafi writes: “In a world where the rich get richer and the poor do not realise that things are being taken from them, religious manipulation works like a charm. And because the rich have money this collusion sets the agenda which eventually envelops the state institutions. Because we all are primed to do what is easy, not what is right”.

The Khanewal incident clearly unmasks the Punjab police’s unprofessional face as it remained a silent spectator. The police did not try to stop the heinous crime by dispersing the crowd. The government should take stern action against the police officers who showed criminal negligence in performing their duties diligently. However, after the incident, the Khanewal police have arrested a large number of people.

If the government wants to stop such tragic incidents in the coming days, it should implement the National Action Plan in letter and spirit. The government should also stop supporting extremist groups. Every effort should be made to create a trustful and equal criminal justice system across the country. The media, including print, electronic and social media, should be used to disseminate moderate ideas among the people of Pakistan. The media should also condemn and discourage extremist views among Pakistanis. There is no other way to stop mob lynching incidents in the coming days.