Angry Mob Burns Christian Couple Alive in Pakistan

A mob of Muslims in Pakistan burned alive a Christian couple accused of having desecrated the Qur’an.

pakistan-christian

Credit: Reuters

Tensions have been running high between the two communities over allegations that the Christian couple had defiled pages from the Muslim holy book, despite reports insisting that the rumors were unfounded.

According to local reports, the Christian couple were laborers in Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Lahore. The couple was thrashed by a mob of 300 people, a source from Punjab police said. The victims identified as Shama and Shehzad were a married couple.

Eyewitness said a large mob armed with sticks confronted the couple, accusing them of desecrating the Qur’an and burning their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked. An eyewitness alleged that some policemen present near the scene remained mute spectators and intervened only after the couple was burnt. A couple of shoppers in the neighborhood also pulled down the shutters to their businesses.

Agency France Press (AFP) quoting a local police station official Bin-Yameen said that “Yesterday an incident of desecration of the Holy Quran took place in the area and today the mob first beat the couple and later set their bodies on fire at a brick kiln” however the exact reason couldn’t be confirmed.

Soon after the unpleasant incident Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif constituted a three-member committee to investigate the matter and ordered the police to ensure security in the province.

Veteran Pakistani journalist Raza Rumi reported the issue on Twitter saying that “A Christian couple burnt alive on charges of #blasphemy ostensibly to settle a dispute. Harrowing. And happens during Moharram in Pakistan.

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, tweeted that the culprits of the gruesome act have been nabbed.

It is pertinent to mention here that religious intolerance is gaining momentum in different parts of Pakistan. Every day religious minorities are facing attack, detention, torture and the repression of their fundamental freedoms.

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According to human rights groups, the targeting of minorities on religious grounds is now increasingly becoming a trend in Pakistan. Minorities, particularly Shia Hazara, across Balochistan and Christians in Punjab, have been targets of increased state controls as well as campaigns by right-wing groups.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in one of its report stated that the prevailing political situation, and rise in religious extremism has escalated in the country.

“There has been an unchecked rise in religious extremism and the situation has worsened for religious and sectarian minority communities. A sequence of attacks on Sikhs in Peshawar, assaults on Hindus in Umerkot and on temples elsewhere in Sindh, target killing of an Ahmadi doctor in Mirpur Khas, killing of Ahmadis in Gujranwala, of Zikris in Awaran and attack on a blasphemy convict in Adiala prison are just some of the manifestations of increase in fanaticism and intolerance in the country,” the HRCP report said.

The report also finds that  in recent month, religious minorities particularly Zikri Baloch across the coastal belt of the southwestern Balochistan province  face increased attacks, persecution and a clampdown on their freedoms due a little known religious outfit known as Lashker-E-Kurasan, allegedly linked with ISIS in Pakistan.

According to a rough estimation by HRCP some 15,000 people belonging to the Zikri community have migrated from the Mekran division after wave of violence against them in the region.

Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.