Local tourist killed in Pakistan’s Swat over blasphemy allegations

Protesters rally against a woman arrested on blasphemy charges in Lahore, Pakistan, April 17, 2023. Officials in northwest Pakistan said on Friday, that a crowd stormed a police station, took a detainee facing blasphemy charges and killed him.

Al Jazeera :
A 36-year-old man has been killed and his body burned in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after he was accused of desecrating the Quran, the holy book of Muslims.
The incident occurred on Thursday evening in Madyan, a town in the Swat district, a popular tourist spot located 280km (174 miles) from the capital city of Islamabad.
Police officials in Swat reported that the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, was a tourist from Sialkot, Punjab, who had been accused of “insulting the Quran”. It is unclear precisely what the man did.
“Our police team reached the main market in Madyan to arrest the man and took him to the police station, but the crowd demanded to have him handed over,” a police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity.
Officials added that a large group of hundreds of people gathered outside the Madyan police station where the man was being held by police, attacked the premises and dragged the man out before killing him. How he was killed is unclear, although one police source based at the central Swat police headquarters, about one hour away from Madyan, told Al Jazeera by telephone that the man had been “tortured to death”. Videos circulating on social media show a large crowd chanting religious slogans and surrounding a burning body.
A senior Swat police official, Zahid Ullah Khan, told the media that the group also set fire to the police station and a police vehicle. He added that investigations into the incident were under way.
However, the police have not confirmed whether a First Information Report (FIR) was filed regarding the incident or if any arrests have been made.
Officials at the Civil Hospital in Madyan confirmed to Al Jazeera that at least eight people were brought in overnight with minor injuries from the incident, and all have been treated and discharged.
While traffic was temporarily halted through the main market area of Madyan overnight, local officials stated that the situation in town has returned to normal with businesses operating and tourist traffic flowing as usual.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur also condemned the tourist’s death and requested an immediate report on the incident from the police.
According to a statement from the chief minister’s office, Gandapur directed the provincial police chief to take emergency measures to control the situation.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are based on the legal system of its British colonial rulers, who introduced laws related to religion in 1860 to quell Hindu-Muslim violence in the Indian subcontinent.