Timeline: Pakistan's geographic trend of mob lynchings over alleged blasphemy

A list of documented and reported cases
Dec 07, 2021
Rashid Rehman. Source: File
Rashid Rehman. Source: File
Graphics: M. Obair/SAMAA Digital
Graphics: M. Obair/SAMAA Digital
Graphics: M. Obair/SAMAA
Graphics: M. Obair/SAMAA

On December 3, a mob of factory workers and other men killed and burned the body of a Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara over alleged blasphemy allegations in Sialkot. 

Kumara was the general manager of operations of the factory. He is said to have been accused of blasphemy for allegedly tearing down stickers of a religious outfit from a wall of a sports goods manufacturing unit.  

The incident drew widespread condemnation from government officials, political leaders and human rights bodies. 

Kumara is the latest victim of a lynching (meaning a form of rough mob justice without any consideration for due process of law). The meaning of lynching is who has been killed extra judicially after being accused of blasphemy. A 2019 report in Dawn, quoting the Centre for Social Justice said that at least 62 men and women have been killed on mere suspicion of blasphemy between 1987 and 2015. 

report by Amnesty International said that a total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused under various provisions on offences related to religion since 1987.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Aasia Noreen, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. In its verdict, the court said, “As noted...sometimes, to fulfill nefarious designs the law is misused by individuals leveling false allegations of blasphemy. Stately, since 1990, 62 people have been murdered as a result of blasphemy allegations, even before their trial could be conducted in accordance with law.”  

According to an Al Jazeera tally, at least 75 people have been extra-judicially killed in connection with blasphemy allegations since 1990. 

Here is a list of reported extra-judicial murders in Pakistan after its victims were accused of blasphemy. We have additionally mapped them by city in an attempt to provide some understanding of the trend. This is as comprehensive a list as we could muster from cases reported by the media and NGOs. Each case was corroborated with more than one credible source. 

July 3, 2021

A policeman named Abdul Qadir kills Waqas Ahmed with a cleaver over blasphemy allegations in Lahore. The victim was accused of sharing blasphemous content online and was convicted by a court in 2016. However, the Lahore High Court overturned the conviction in 2020. 

March 3, 2021

  Taqi Shah. Source: Dialogue Pakistan 

Taqi Shah, an Ahle Tasheeh religious scholar, is axed to death over blasphemy allegations in Jhang. The case against the victim was registered in 2019.

November 5, 2020

Bank manager Malik Imran Hanif. Source: File

A security guard Ahmed Nawaz shoots and kills Malik Imran Hanif, who is the manager of a bank in Khushab’s Quaidabad tehsil. Nawaz claimed that he shot Hanif because he was an Ahmadi and had blasphemed against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

July 29, 2020

Tahir Ahmed Naseem. Image credit: Twitter 

Tahir Ahmed Naseem, a Peshawar man, is shot dead during the hearing of a blasphemy case against him at a sessions court. Naseem appeared before a judge when a 24-year-old attacker, Khalid barged in the courtroom and opened fire at him.

March 20, 2019

Khalid Hameed (L), Khateeb Hussain(R)

Khateeb Hussain, a fifth semester BS English student enrolled in Bahawalpur's Government Sadiq Egerton College, stabs his professor Khalid Hameed over alleged "anti-Islam" remarks.

August 6, 2018

Qutub Rind. Source: File

Qutub Rind, a student at Lahore’s National College of Arts (NCA), is tortured to death by his landlord Ahsan over a rent dispute. 

Rind, hailing from Jacobabad, Sindh, was living in a rented flat in Rajgarh area of Lahore.

Ahsan, along with two other suspects beat Rind with a rod and then pushed him from the third floor. The suspects first leveled a blasphemy accusation against the victim and later a mob gathered and killed him.

January 22, 2018

Source: Geo News

A college principal in Charsadda is shot dead by a grade 12 student whom he scolded for skipping school. After his arrest, the student, in a video, claimed that “the college principal had committed blasphemy.” 

April 20, 2017 

Three women kill Fazal Abbas, a leader of the Shia community in Sialkot. Abbas was accused of blasphemy in 2004 after which he fled to Denmark, according to Reuters. 

April 13, 2017 

Mashal Khan. Source: File

Mashal Khan, a journalism student at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University, is lynched by a mob of students in an attack whose brutality and viciousness made international headlines.  

Khan was known for his liberal views and a police source told international wire agency AFP that students had recently complained to the university authorities about his alleged secular views. 

Jan 8, 2015 

Fifty-two-year-old Abid Mehmood is shot dead in Taxila after being kidnapped from home. Reports stated that he had allegedly claimed ‘prophethood’ in October 2011.

A case was registered against him under Section 295-C of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He was released from jail in 2013 due to his mental and physical condition. 

November 6, 2014 

An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Punjab Police Faraz Naveed gets into an argument with Syed Tufail Haider who was arrested a day earlier in Gujrat. Naveed then murders Haider with an axe and later accuses him of making derogatory remarks against the Companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

Nov. 4, 2014

Shama and Shahzad

A mob beats a Christian couple, Shama and Shahzad, to death in Pakistan and burns their bodies in a brick kiln where they worked, for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran.

The incident takes place at the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of the city of Lahore. 

Nov 16, 2014 

A teenager in Islamabad shoots dead a 65-year-old man in a police station over blasphemy accusations.

The victim Khalil Ahmad was a member of the minority Ahmadi community. He was earlier accused with three other Ahmadis when they asked a shopkeeper in their village to remove inflammatory stickers denouncing their community. 

May 7, 2014 

Rashid Rehman. Source: File

Rashid Rehman, a lawyer representing Junaid Hafeez, is shot dead in his office in Multan. Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University, was accused of making derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in 2013. He was sentenced to death in December 2019. 

July 28, 2014 

A mob attacks the homes of Ahmadis in Gujranwala over an alleged blasphemous post on Facebook by an Ahmadi man. 

A woman and two minor girls are killed in the attack as the mob burns five houses, a storage building and several vehicles. over alleged blasphemy. 

Dec 21, 2012 

A 35-year-old man is burnt to death in Dadu after a mob storms Rajo Deero police station and drags him out. 

He was earlier handed over to the police by locals who accused him of setting fire to the Holy Quran. 

July 4, 2012 

A man is dragged, beaten and burnt alive in Bahawalpur after locals saw him allegedly throwing pages from the Holy Quran on to the street. The police took the accused in custody, but the mob attacked the police station, set several police vehicles on fire and dragged the victim out of the lockup. 

March 2, 2011

Former Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti. Source: File

Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti is shot dead in Islamabad.

Al-Qaida and Taliban claim responsibility for the attack in leaflets left at the scene of the shooting. They accuse the government for putting Bhatti in charge of an unspecified committee, apparently referring to one said to be reviewing the blasphemy laws.

January 4, 2011 

Salman Taseer's most iconic tweets on his 10th death anniversary
Former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer Photo: APP

Former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer is shot dead by one of his bodyguards Mumtaz Qadri in Islamabad. Qadri later tells media that Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer. 

July 19, 2010 

Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid

Two Christians charged with blasphemy are shot dead outside a court in Faisalabad. Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid are accused of writing a pamphlet critical of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They were arrested just a month before their murder. 

Aug 4, 2009 

Najeeb Zafar, a factory owner in Sheikhupura, is killed for allegedly desecrating Quranic verses when he removes a calendar from a wall. 

Zafar had a scuffle with some angry workers, after which the police was called. The police him in a storeroom but the violent crowd stormed the storeroom and beat him to death.  

August 2, 2009 

Six Christians are burnt alive in Gojra, Toba Tek Singh after hundreds of people attack and loot their homes. The dead included four women and a child. The mob attacked the homes after rumors that they had defiled pages from the Holy Quran. 

April 8, 2008 

Jagdish Kumar, 27, is a Hindu factory worker at Nova Industries in Karachi’s Korangi Industrial Area. He is beaten to death by co-workers for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

May 28, 2004

Samuel Masih, a Christian labourer, is killed by a policeman in Lahore General Hospital. Masih was accused of blasphemy in August 2003. A case under Section 295-C was registered and he was sent to the Kot Lakhpat jail where he fell ill. 

He was then moved to Gulab Devi Hospital where Faryad Ali, a policeman deployed on his watch, attacked him with a hammer. Masih was then moved to Lahore General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

April 11, 1994 

Manzoor Masih is shot dead after Lahore High Court grants him, along with two others, bail in a blasphemy case. 

Manzoor Masih, Rehmat Masih and Salamat Masih hailed from Gujranwala. They were accused of blasphemy after allegedly writing defamatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) on the wall of a mosque. 

Rehmat Masih and Manzoor Masih were injured in the attack. Later in 1997, Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, the High Court judge who granted bail to the three accused, was killed in his chambers. 

May 1994 

Hafiz Sajjad Farooq is killed by a mob in Gujranwala after being accused of blasphemy. A case was registered against him and he was arrested and locked up at a police station. But a mob dragged him out, stoned him and burnt him to death. 

July 19, 1992 

Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam is accused of abusing the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and imparting anti-Islamic education to his students.

Iqbal was allegedly poisoned in jail. 

Jan 6, 1992 

Naimat Ahmer, a Christian teacher, at Dasuha High School in Faisalabad is stabbed to death by a student Farooq Ahmad, who accused him of disrespecting the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Islam. 

However, a police investigation revealed that the murderer was instigated by his uncle who wanted Ahmar's job in the education department.

1992 

Christian men Bantu Masih, 80, Mukhtar Masih, 50 are arrested on allegations of committing blasphemy.

Bantu was stabbed eight times at a Lahore police station. He succumbed to his injuries at hospital. Later, Mukhtar was tortured to death in police custody. 

Violence

Blasphemy

lynching

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