Joint investigation team formed to probe Swat mob lynching

PESHAWAR: The authorities have established a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to identify and arrest members of a mob that killed a man accused of blasphemy after they ransacked a police station holding him in protective custody in Swat, according to sources within the Capital Police Office.

A mob beat the man to death on Thursday night after accusing him of burning pages of the Holy Quran. They set the police station in the area ablaze and injured eight policemen.

The 10-member JIT, comprising officials from the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Special Branch, and senior police officers, will be monitored by Malakand Division Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police.

The case involves approximately 2,000 individuals, and their identification will be aided by cellular data and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

Preliminary investigation reports indicate that no political or high-ranking figures were present at the scene, where 11 people and five police officers were injured in clashes. The mob also set fire to two motorcycles and five vehicles.

Police had requested reinforcements to control the crowd, but the local Station House Officer (SHO) failed to move the alleged culprit to a secure location.

“After initially rescuing the man from a crowd, the police took him to the station in Madyan, but announcements from mosque loudspeakers asked locals to come out,” Malakand division’s regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said, after which the mob stormed the station.

Graphic videos of the latest incident showed a frenzied mob dragging a naked and bloodied body through the streets, and then setting it on fire. The footage went viral on social media and sparked an outcry among users.

Gandapur said the situation was under control and a case has been registered against the organisers of the mob. He added the man had been visiting Swat, a popular tourist destination, for Eid ul Adha.

Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Quran and later died of his injuries in Sialkot.

In 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched in one of the highest-profile incidents in the country. Six people were sentenced to death for their part in the lynching after the incident sparked global outcry.

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