CLAAS’ Press Release
5 November 2014

Christian couple in Pakistan tortured and burnt alive by a Muslim mob after being accused of blasphemy

Yesterday morning (November 4) an angry mob tortured the Christian couple and then threw them in a Brick kiln furnace to be burnt to death following allegations they had burnt the Holy Quran.

The atrocity took place in Kot Radha Kishan, a small town about 40 miles from Lahore – the capital of Punjab.

The Couple known as Shehzad 32 and his wife Shama, 24, had three children aged between 18 months old to seven years old. According to reports, Shama was pregnant with their fourth.
It is alleged that the desecration of the Quran took place on Sunday, and was then reported to the kiln owner, who detained them, the imams were also informed.

The news spread quickly and announcements were made through Mosque loud speakers to incite the Muslims, who then later gathered around the couple’s house and dragged them out.
They wrestled them from police and tortured, and when they had had enough it that, the mob threw them into the kiln fire to be burnt alive.

The police have said the incident occurred because of the kiln owner’s negligence. They arrested about 40 people and may arrest more, but whether the perpetrators will be punished is difficult to say.
Christians in nearby towns and villages have fled their homes because of the fear of follow-up attacks – as we have seen several examples in the past.

According to police the situation in the area is calm and under control.

Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif has setup a three member committee to investigate the incident.
This is not the first incident such as this to have occurred during Nawaz Sharif’s government. There are several examples, including Gojra where eight Christians were burnt alive, and their families are still yearning for the justice.

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK said it is “atrocious that people can take matters into their own hands and kill someone on a mere allegation”.

He added: “Mob justice is becoming prevalant, despite it being the job of the police and courts to prosecute, convict and punish someone if found guilty.

“The Blasphemy law continues to be misused against minorities and Christians are the main target. It is the government’s duty to take notice of the growing popularity of such incidents and pass the necessary legislation.”

He also drew attention to the non-fatal shooting of Briton Muhammad Asghr, a victim of the blasphemy law, by a policeman in the prison where he is detained.

Mr Saeed further said that despite the world reacting with fury over the death sentence of Aasia Bibi, the Pakistani government has paid no attention and continues to ignore the urgent need to deal with the growing influence of extremists and abuse of the blasphemy laws.

He added: “Enough blood has been shed because of this laws, and time and time again it has been proven that this laws is being misused to settle personal scores by individuals and religious extremists.

“Therefore there is an urgent and blatant need to amend these laws accordingly, but unfortunately the cried are falling on the deaf ears of the government and the Pakistani politicians.

“Although the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has formed a committee to investigate this sad incident, I am not very hopeful that justice will be done as there is no precedent.

“Christians are still waiting for the justice to be done in many other cases, and several innocent Christians have been extra judicially killed in dreadful incidents such as those in Joseph colony and Gojra, but with no consequence for the killers.

“The government’s inactions encourage the perpetrators to commit such crimes with impunity. This needs to be stopped and those responsible need to be brought to the justice.”

Mr Saeed also called on the international community to hold Pakistan to account to the numerous international treaties it has ratified relating to human rights.

“Those nations and organisations giving grants to Pakistan must review the situation in the country as an ongoing matter, and impose sanctions where necessary until something is done to improve the appalling treatment of Christians and other religious minorities”, he concluded.

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