February 14, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
At least 21 main suspects were arrested after their identification in videos, relating to the lynching of a ‘mentally challenged’ man in Khanewal over blasphemy allegations.
The police have detained 102 suspects in connection with the mob lynching, according to an update posted on the Twitter handle of the Punjab police on Monday, February 14.
The Punjab Police had shared pictures of the 21 arrested suspects earlier, via Twitter, adding that further arrests and identification of other suspects was underway in the case. Police said six more suspects were arrested on Monday, in addition to 15 others arrested overnight after they were identified in the videos of the lynching shared on social media.
“The arrested suspects are seen inciting the mob and torturing the victim by hitting him with bricks and sticks (in the videos),” a police spokesperson said in a statement. The suspects have been charged with offences under the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) and other heinous crimes, the spokesperson said.
Police teams have been conducting raids to arrest other suspects since Sunday night while a secret operation was also underway, the spokesperson added.
Victim laid to rest in ancestral town
The man, identified as Mushtaq Ahmed, son of Mazhar Ali Rajput, was laid to rest in his ancestral village in the town of Mian Channu on Sunday, February 13. According to news reports, family members also held a demonstration to protest the mob lynching. He left behind two sons and a daughter who live with their paternal grandmother in Karachi. His wife had left him after taking a divorce, it is said because of his illness.
Following the burial, Khanewal Deputy Commissioner Salman Khan and District Police Officer Syed Nadeem Abbas visited family members and offered their condolences. The senior government functionaries gave assurances to the bereaved family that all culprits would be brought to justice.
“Mushtaq was mentally ill for many years and a father of three children,” sobbed the distraught mother of the deceased, while speaking to reporters in Karachi. She showed his prescription from a retired army psychiatrist in Khanewal. She said Mushtaq was living with his children in Karachi after one of his elder brothers brought him there for medical treatment from Khanewal. Her son had returned to Khanewal to meet family members there last month.
“Every time such incidents of lynching happen, the government takes no action,” Mushtaq’s elder brother said to the media. “The government did nothing to prevent such incidents even after the lynching of the Sri Lankan in Sialkot,” he pointed out. The mother of the deceased and his elder brother appealed to the prime minister to give justice to the aggrieved family.
The unfurling of mob rage
After Mushtaq Ahmed was tortured to death, in a macabre move, his body was hanged from a tree. The incident unfurled after he was allegedly caught burning pages of the Holy Quran on February 12. According to the FIR registered with the Talamba police station, complainant Mohammad Ramzan, the administrator of the mosque, said that two persons rushed to the mosque on seeing smoke arising. They found an unidentified person setting fire to the Holy Quran, Ramzan told police. He said people started gathering there and demanded action against him.
Local sources revealed that the situation escalated when a call was made from the mosque’s loudspeaker that there was an Ahmadi, who had been caught in the mosque for desecration of the Holy Quran. Following the announcement, a mob of thousands gathered outside the mosque.
A police team took the suspect into custody after rushing to the mosque, but the mob snatched him away and started flinging bricks and stones at him. The mob later tied the man from a tree and stoned him to death. The dead body was brought down from the tree after a heavy police contingent arrived there.
The videos of the gruesome lynching went viral on social media, leading to widespread condemnation of the gruesome killing.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also took notice of the incident while Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the relevant authorities to adopt zero-tolerance against those involved in taking the law into their hands and the police officials who failed in their