A furious mob of about 5,000 people attacked multiple police stations in northern Pakistan while demanding the officers to hand over a man arrested on charges of burning the Holy Quran.
According to district police chief Asif Bahadur, on late Sunday, the crowd quickly gathered outside the police stations in the northern Pakistani city of Charsadda after learning that police had detained the man accused of blasphemy.
They demanded the police to hand over the man with the intention of burning the man alive ‘like he burnt the Holy Quran.’
Violence was unavoidable after the police were unable to fulfill the demands of the masses. About 30 cars were also set ablaze in the anarchic night that continued into Monday morning.
Bahadur explained that the identity and religion of the suspect had not been disclosed and described him as mentally impaired. While the motive behind burning the copy of the Holy Quran was still being investigated as the suspect was arrested a day ago.
Local Officer Asif Khan said that no officers were injured in the attack, but police were forced to summon troops to bring order to the situation without resorting to force to avoid casualties among the protesters. Luckily the officers managed to thwart the mob’s attempt to execute the detainee, who had now been transferred to another district for security reasons.
Khan added that the situation in Charsadda had returned to normal on Monday, but law enforcement was seeking to arrest those linked to the attack.
Blasphemy could bring the death penalty in Pakistan, where accusations are often provoked by mob violence.
International and domestic rights groups have argued that blasphemy accusations have often been made to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal problems.
In 2014, a husband and wife were hanged and burned in a Punjab kiln after being accused of desecrating the Koran.
While in 2011, a former Punjab governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri in Islamabad after calling for reform of the blasphemy law.
The Muslim-majority country has often been paralyzed in recent years by anti-blasphemy protests by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party.
Demonstrations are also often associated with the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad by French satirical magazines.