A charged mob gathered outside a police station located in Hub on Thursday and demanded that a Hindu man accused of blasphemy be handed over to them so that they could administer justice to him.

Police and FC personnel held negotiations with the mob that refused to back down from their demand.

An hours-long protest outside the Hub city police station turned violent, with protesters pelting stones at police, after law enforcement officials refused the demand that police hand over the accused to the community so they could administer ‘justice’ themselves and ‘punish’ him.

The police dispersed the crowd through tear gas shelling and aerial firing and took 20 protesters into custody. Search operations were underway to arrest those suspected of inciting the mob to the violence, the police confirmed to the media.

Three officials including an additional deputy commissioner were injured in the violence, along with a rescue official and a child who later succumbed to his injuries, after he received bullet wounds which turned fatal. The deceased boy is yet to be identified.

Shops owned by minority communities were shut down and roads connecting Sindh to Balochistan via Hub were closed for security operations until further notice.

Growing ‘mob culture’

Blasphemy in Pakistan is punishable by the death penalty. Charges of blasphemy are a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Mere accusations and allegations of blasphemy can galvanise people to resort to mob violence.

A few weeks ago a vigilante mob lynched 23-year-old Mardan university student Mashal Khan over allegations of blasphemy. He was shot and tortured to death even in the presence of police whereas police high-ups said that the LEA personnel present at the scene were unable to control the massive mob.

According to Center for Research and Security Studies think-tank, vigilantes have murdered 65 people over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

Rights activists, scholars and lawmakers have argued that even if the person has committed blasphemy, it is the court of law that will deliver the justice. In almost all cases, merely the allegations have led to mob lynching.