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Muslims descend on police station in Pakistan to grab blasphemy suspect and lynch him outside

  •  A man identified only as Waris was in police custody for desecrating the Koran
  •  Police said he pasted images of himself, his wife and a knife on several pages
  •  Enraged mob of hundreds stormed the police station and took him from his cell

An angry mob of hundreds stormed a police station in Pakistan to grab a man accused of desecrating the Koran, before taking the suspect outside and lynching him to death.

The incident occurred at Warburton Police Station in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province on Saturday. 

Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said a man identified only as Waris had been arrested for blasphemy after desecrating pages of a copy of Islam’s holy book.

He said Waris had pasted images of himself, his wife and a knife on several pages of the book, displayed them and then threw them about in the rural district of Nankana.

At the time of his arrest, people who witnessed his actions had tried to grab him and beat him, police said. 

Journalist Naila Inayat posted a video on social media showing hundreds of angry Muslims protesting outside the Warburton Police Station in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province

Journalist Naila Inayat posted a video on social media showing hundreds of angry Muslims protesting outside the Warburton Police Station in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province

Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said a man identified only as Waris had been in police custody for blasphemy after desecrating pages of a copy of Islam's holy book

Senior police officer Babar Sarfaraz Alpa said a man identified only as Waris had been in police custody for blasphemy after desecrating pages of a copy of Islam’s holy book

Following his arrest, hundreds of Muslim protestors stormed the police station, with some using a wooden ladder to scale a wall and open the main gate for the others

Following his arrest, hundreds of Muslim protestors stormed the police station, with some using a wooden ladder to scale a wall and open the main gate for the others

Police say the group ransacked the entire police station and forcibly took Waris from his cell

Police say the group ransacked the entire police station and forcibly took Waris from his cell

The incident occurred at Warburton Police Station in Punjab province, Pakistan, on Saturday

The incident occurred at Warburton Police Station in Punjab province, Pakistan, on Saturday

They took him into custody, partly to ‘rescue’ him away from the crowd, but following his arrest hundreds of Muslim protestors turned up at the police station.

The crowd stormed the building after some used a wooden ladder to scale a wall and open the main gate for the others.

He said the group ransacked the entire police station and forcibly took Waris from his cell.

‘By the time police reinforcements could reach the scene, the mob [had] lynched the man and were about to burn his body,’ said Mr Alpa.

‘But police with the help of saner people in the area foiled their attempt [to burn him].’

Journalist Naila Inayat posted a video on her Twitter feed showing the mob gathering outside the police station. 

Charges of blasphemy carry the death penalty under Pakistani law.

International and Pakistani rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle personal scores.

Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, something Islamists strongly resist.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the incident and asked the Punjab police chief to take action against officers who failed to protect the suspect while in custody.

Mr Alpa said Waris was arrested in 2019 on a previous blasphemy charge and was in prison until last year.

Mr Alpa said the lynching would be investigated.

Usman Anwar, the Punjab police chief, suspended the police station chief and the area deputy superintendent for negligence in duty and failing to prevent the attack on the police station, as well as the killing of the suspect.

In December 2021, a group lynched the Sri Lankan manager of a sports equipment factory in Punjab after he was accused of blasphemy.



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