On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned a mob lynching in Khanewal for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran the night before, stating the culprits would face “zero tolerance” and action would be taken against police officers who were futile in their job.
A middle-aged man was stoned to death by a crowd in Jungle Dera village of Khanewal district’s Mian Channu on Saturday, bringing back memories of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara’s lynching in December. The victim protested his innocence, but the villagers bound him to a tree and beat him with bricks until he died.
According to eyewitnesses, a police squad arrived in the village well before the stoning and even captured the victim, but the mob seized him from the hands of the station house officer.
The event garnered political censure, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting, “We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands, and mob lynching will be dealt with the all extent of the law.”
Separately, Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Ashrafi, Special Representative to the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony, claimed the victim was not mentally sound and had been suffering from a mental condition for roughly 15 years.
When someone commits a crime, there are institutions in place to deal with them, such as the police, courts, and other administrative agencies, he said, adding that the culture of being “judge, jury, and executioner” could no longer be maintained. He called on Pakistan’s chief justice to conduct fast trials in blasphemy cases during a press conference in Khanewal.
PM Imran is keeping an eye on the situation, according to Ashrafi, who also stated that no one should consider “governing the country according to their own desires.”
He also assured the media that the process of apprehending the suspects was begun, and that if there was any negligence, the prime minister would take action.
According to the PM’s assistant, ulema will meet with the deceased’s heirs, and all Islamic scholars believe that no one has the right to kill another.
“Rather than turning to vigilante justice, the legal way should be taken to lodge complaints,” he added, adding that such activities were contrary to the Holy Prophet’s teachings (Peace Be Upon Him).
Meanwhile, Punjab police announced that 15 major suspects in the case have been apprehended. Police said in a tweet that 85 people had been detained so far, and that the process of identifying additional major suspects was underway.