Pakistan News

Boy killed, policeman hurt in mob protest over ‘blasphemy’

Boy killed, policeman hurt in mob protest over ‘blasphemy’

QUETTA / KHUZDAR: A 12-year-old boy was killed and a police constable seriously injured by gunfire on Thursday after an unruly mob in the industrial town of Hub protested the sharing of alleged blasphemous content by a member of a minority community.

Lasbela Additional Deputy Commissioner Tariq Javed Mengal and senior police officer Jan Mohammad Khosa were also injured when the mob began throwing stones at a police station.

The demonstrators then blocked the main Quetta-Karachi National Highway, burning tyres and placing barricades, suspending all traffic between Balochistan and Sindh.

Frontier Corps personnel had to be called in to control the mob and all shops, bazaars and business centres shut down after the mob ran riot through the streets of the small town.

The incident in Hub is the latest in a series of incidents where mobs have been incited to lynch persons accused of committing blasphemy. Last month, Abdul Wali Khan University student Mashal Khan was brutally lynched on campus, while a mosque imam in Chitral has had to go into hiding for protecting a mentally unstable man accused of blasphemy by a mob.

The 29-year-old trader was alleged to have shared a picture that contained blasphemous content with 59 others over the messaging app, WhatsApp.

“We have arrested [the suspect] and registered an FIR against him on the complaint of locals,” Hub SP Zia Mandokhel told Dawn, adding that he had been booked under section 295-A and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, otherwise known as the blasphemy law.

After police booked the man, an angry mob began to gather in front of the city police station and chanted slogans against the suspect, demanding that he be handed over to them.

However, police refused to hand over the suspect and told the mob that he had been booked under the law and sent to prison.

This was where things took a violent turn; the unruly mob began to throw stones at the police station and local administration officials.

“Additional Deputy Commissioner Tariq Javed Mengal and a police officer were injured as result of stone pelting,” officials said, adding that police resorted to baton charging and tear-gassing the protesters to disperse them.

The situation then took a serious turn when unidentified individuals opened fire on law enforcement personnel, killing a young boy and injuring a police official.

“A 12-year-old boy, identified as Qudratullah, was killed in the firing,” Mr Mandokhel said, adding that Constable Mukhtar Ahmed was also shot and injured.

The injured ADC and police personnel had been shifted to Karachi for treatment, he said.

Following the incident, police rounded up around 40 protesters, while sources said that security personnel had been deployed around shops and other businesses owned by members of the minority community as a precautionary measure.

Lasbela Deputy Commissioner Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Qambrani told Dawn the situation was under control and that a heavy contingent of police and Frontier Corps personnel were on patrol.

He also said that a committee of comprising local ulema had been constituted to look into the matter.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2017

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