Tourist Lynched In Swat After Being Accused of Blasphemy

Videos circulating on social media show a charged mob surrounding the body of the deceased before it is doused with fuel and set on fire

Tourist Lynched In Swat After Being Accused of Blasphemy

A charged mob mercilessly lynched a man who had been imprisoned for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran inside the Madyan police station. 

The mob then set fire to the suspect's body, the police station, and a police vehicle.

The incident took place in the Madyan area of Swat when an announcement was made from a mosque in the main market of the area, alleging that someone had committed a sacrilegious act. This enraged locals who started to gather in the market.

The suspect was later handed over to the police and detained in the local police station. However, the enraged mob encircled the police station and demanded that the police hand the suspect over to them.

The police attempted to reason with the enraged crowd. But the situation continued to deteriorate and even led to an exchange of fire between the police and some members of the mob. As a result, at least eight police officers were injured.

The mob then forced its way into the police station. The officers at the police station were forced to flee for their safety, leaving the prisoners inside at the mercy of the mob.

The mob broke the suspect out of his holding cell, dragged him into the middle of the bazaar where they proceeded to torture him, douse him with fuel before setting him alight.

The Swat DPO Dr Zahidullah Khan stated that they had sought support and additional officers from other police stations to cope with the fast deteriorating law-and-order situation.

The DPO said the mob also set fire to the police station and a police van, two motorcycles, six private vehicles were damaged in the incident.

The district police chief said that the suspect, whose identity has yet to be determined, did not belong to Swat, was accused of committing blasphemy. Media claimed that the victim was a domestic tourist from Sialkot who was staying at a local hotel.

An image showing the victim sitting in the Madyan police station.

The DPO stated that an inquiry has been launched to determine the facts.

Videos of the incident which went viral on social media were morbid to watch: some footage showed the Madyan police station on fire, while another showed a large mob encircling the deceased's battered body before it was doused with fuel and set on fire. 

Taking notice of the incident, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur directed the provincial police chief to submit a report.

The police, the civilian Investigation Bureau, and other security agencies are probing the incident and have promised to present their findings to the media once the investigation is complete.

Swat is a popular destination among domestic and foreign tourists due to its green hills, meadows and pristine rivers. Even though it was the centre of a terrorist uprising in the late 2000s with the likes of Mullah Fazlullah of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) hailing from the valley, the valleys are deemed quite peaceful. It is also home to the ancient Gandhara civilization with many stupas still present and its museum filled with artifacts dating back over a millennia. It is yet to be seen what kind of an impact on tourism this incident would have.

The author has been a correspondent for national and international broadcasters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the past five years.