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Pakistan: Muslim mob burns down police station, torches 30 cars after mentally unstable man commits blasphemy

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After the recent massive anti-Hindu riots in Bangladesh, Pakistani has now played host to the latest furious Muslim mob baying for the blood of someone who desecrated the holy book of Islam, the Quran.

On Sunday, November 28, a murderous Muslim mob launched targeted attacks on the Mandani police station and set it on fire. Several checkposts were also reportedly burned down, and over thirty cars that were parked outside the police station were set ablaze. The incident took place in Charsadda in Peshawar of Pakhtunkhwa province.

While some claim that it was a hundreds-strong-mob, other reports suggest that a crowd of 5000 attackers was at the spot when the police station was set on fire. Officers state that a mentally challenged man, accused of dishonoring the Quran, was in police custody. The mob demanded that the man be handed over to them. When the officials refused to do so, the mob resorted to violence.

A police official, Asif Khan, has confirmed that although there have not been any casualties in this attack, the police were compelled to deploy armed forces in order to restore normalcy in the area. Police have further informed the public that the mob had tried to lynch the accused, but the police succeeded in saving him by transferring him to a different district. In light of the unsettling law and order situation in the district, police have not released any details about the man who has been accused of blasphemy or the complaint lodged against him.

One detail, however, did come to light. “Apparently, the accused is mentally unstable and he cannot speak,” police officials have revealed. How can a man who cannot even speak and has no ability to think rationally insult the Islamic holy book?

Reportedly, though the police initially tried to resist the crowd, as the agitated mob increased to a sizable number, with more protestors continuously joining in, the violence intensified, and they had to flee to save themselves.

A police complaint was registered documenting this violence. First Information Report (FIR) cases were lodged at the Tangi police station against 30 named suspects and around 300 to 400 others who remain unidentified. Interestingly, two of the named suspects have been nominated for the position of “Tehsil Nazim” (head of the Tehsil government) in the upcoming local elections.

The FIR also states that the violent mob attacked the police before opening fire on the officials present at the police post. It also mentions how the mob stormed into the police checkpost and seized weapons and other valuables. According to the complaint, the crowd set 22 vehicles on fire, including three police vans. They also seized twelve submachine guns and ammunition from ...... Reports of four posts being burned down have also been attested by the police and registered in the FIR.

The accused are booked under sections 120 (concealing a design to commit an offense punishable with imprisonment), 324 (attempt to commit murder), 345 (wrongful confinement), 353 (assault or act to deter a public servant from discharge his duty), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of an offense committed in prosecution of common object) of the Pakistan Penal Code, and have also been charged with Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act.

Civilians also assembled in front of the burnt-down police station and staged a demonstration. Local leaders initiated talks with the crowd and made appeals to maintain peace and not get involved in clashes with the police, or start a riot. The situation was quite tense even on Monday, November 29. Local schools and educational institutions remained closed.

“The government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands,” said Fazal Shakoor Khan, Law Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). On Monday, a high-level meeting, chaired by the minister, was held to review the law and order situation in KP and decide on the steps that would be taken by the police to bring the situation under control. Participants at the meeting were told that some criminal elements had provoked people to cause damage to public property. They had been identified and stern action would be taken against the vandals.

Addressing the issue of the alleged blasphemy, the chief minister condemned the defilement of the Holy Quran and assured the public that the perpetrator of this act would be given strict punishment as well.

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