A man was killed by a mob in Tulamba in the Khanewal District of Pakistan on February 12. Muhammad Mushtaq, 41-years old, was killed by an angry crowd and his body was left tied to a tree. Reuters reported that Mushtaq “appeared to have had mental disabilities.”
The Associated Press reported that Mian Mohammad Ramzan, the mosque custodian told people about a man he saw burning a page of the Quran. The custodian reportedly told others before reporting to the police.
Ramzan explained that people had started arriving for the evening prayers when he asked Mushtaq to stop burning another page.
Chaudhry Imran, a police spokesman, said police officers who responded to the scene found Musthaq surrounded by an angry mob. Mohammad Iqbal, a police officer, and two subordinates tried taking custody of Mushtaq for the alleged blasphemous act. The crowd began throwing stones at Iqbal, hurting him and his associates.
Munawar Gujjar, chief of Tulamba police station, said by the time the reinforcements he sent arrived, Mushtaq was already dead.
Munawar Hussain, a police official, said responding officers found Musthaq unconscious and was tied to a tree. “The villagers armed with batons, axes, and iron rods killed him and hanged his body from a tree,” Hussain said.
“The ill-fated man has been mentally unstable for the last 15 years and, according to his family, often went missing from home,” Gujjar said. So far, Tulamba has arrested 80 individuals that live near the mosques. Investigators may arrest close to 300 more suspects as they review footage recorded from the incident, Gujjar added.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, said he is anguished by the incident and will work with the chief minister of the Punjab province to get a report on the case. “We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands, and mob lynching will be dealt with with the full severity of the law,” Imran said through his social media post.
The incident came two months after a mob beat and burned a Sri Lankan man to death for alleged blasphemy charges.
Note: Reuters reported that the victim is in his 50’s while BBC reported that he was in his 40s. AP reported that the victim was 41 years old.