A man died due to stone-pelting in a remote village in eastern Pakistan for allegedly desecrating the Koran, police noted. The man was identified as 41-year-old Mushtaq Ahmed. A custodian of the local mosque noted that he saw Mushtaq setting fire to the Muslim holy book inside the Mosque on Saturday evening and notified the police.
Witnesses at the scene noted that by the time the officers from Tulamba police station reached the mosque and took custody of Mushtaq, the furious crowd had already seized him. The police were unable to rescue him from the crowd.
According to the DailyMail, police suspected around 300 people participated in the violent incident that took place in the district of Khanewal in Punjab province. So far, 36 men have been detained in connection with the incident.
Some police officers were also injured in the stone-pelting when they tried to remove Mushtaq's body from the scene.
The mosque custodian, Mian Mohammad Ramzan, noted that he spotted smoke in the mosque and rushed to check what was burning. He found one Koran already burned and a man who was trying to light another on fire.
Ramzan said that people were arriving for the evening prayer when he yelled at Mushtaq to stop burning the Koran. According to the police chief of the area, Munawar Gujjar, he had been mentally unstable for 15 years. Mushtaq's family stated that often he went missing for days on end only to be found begging and eating whatever he could find.
'The police failed in their duty'
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the police 'failed in their duty' in regards to the incident. "We have zero tolerance for anyone taking the law into their own hands and mob lynching will be dealt with with the full severity of the law," Khan said in a statement.
The incident comes months after a Sri Lankan factory manager was mob lynched over allegations of blasphemy.