Pakistan: Prakash Kumar, 35, a Hindu businessman, was suspected for allegedly sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp, according to Hub police officials. He was arrested at Hub in Lasbela district and sent to Gaddani Central Jail on Wednesday. Violence erupted when police refused to hand over the Hindu man to an angry mob.
When newspapers wrote about his arrest on Thursday, a crowd of some 500 people, including traders, clerics and politicians, surrounded the town’s police station to demand he be handed over, according to the police official Abdul Sattar. After the police refused to hand over Kumar so that people could “administer justice themselves and punish” him, the mob started with pelting stones at police. Hub City police dispersed the crowd of enraged protesters with tear gas shelling and aerial firing, and took 20 protesters into custody, Dawn News reported.
The protesters became even more violent and took out their guns and five people and a child were injured in the violence. A 10-year-old boy later succumbed to his injuries, as he had received bullet wounds which turned fatal. The deceased boy is yet to be identified.
Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Over 60 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered before their respective trials were over and prominent figures who opposed the blasphemy law have been assassinated. Kumar was suspected by various community members under Sections 295-A and 295-C of Pakistan's blasphemy law. The clause reads:
295-C – Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
This was not a first case when blasphemy charges caused large-scale violence. A few months ago, several bloggers were accused of blasphemy. Some of them were allegedly kidnapped and later released. A few weeks ago a vigilante mob lynched 23-year-old Mardan university student Mashal Khan over allegations of blasphemy who was shot and tortured to death in the presence of the police. According to officials, the police have not been able to control such a massive mob. Mobs certainly mustn’t be allowed to take the law into their own hands. The cases of blasphemy should be decided only in a court of law.
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