Police in Pakistan have arrested 50 people in connection with the kidnapping and lynching of a man accused of blasphemy, officials announced Monday.
Muhammad Waris was arrested Saturday in the Nankana area of eastern Punjab for allegedly desecrating the Quran, considered a sacred book for Muslims, Reuters reported. Waris, a man in his early 20s, was beset by a mob prior to his arrest for the reported desecration, but that mob of hundreds then descended on the police station, accusing Waris of putting images of himself, his wife and a knife in the book and throwing the pages into the streets, according to the Los Angeles Times.
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The mob gained entry to the police station via a wooden ladder, allowing some of the alleged assailants to climb into the walled enclosure and open the main gate to others, the Los Angeles Times reported. The mob then allegedly proceeded to drag Waris out of the station, where he was beaten to death and almost set on fire, police spokesman Muhammad Waqas told Reuters. (RELATED: Irish Lecturer Slaughtered In France For ‘Insulting Muhammad’)
“Police could not resist them because a handful of officials were present in the police station,” Waqas told the outlet, adding police reinforcements were brought in and prevented the mob from burning Waris’ body.
Waris had already been arrested for blasphemy in 2019, a charge which reportedly carries the death penalty under Pakistani law, but was released in 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times.
District police chief Babar Sarfraz Alpa told the outlet at least 50 people were arrested for the alleged attack and police were planning more raids to arrest any other participants.