A Hindu man in the Balochistan province of Pakistan was arrested on charges of blasphemy and sent to jail on Wednesday. 35-year-old Prakash Kumar, a shopkeeper in Lasbela district, was accused of sharing ‘blasphemous’ content on WhatsApp and was subsequently taken into custody for further interrogation.
When the news about the same was published in local newspapers today, crowds started gathering outside the police station where Prakash was lodged. Shops and offices were reportedly closed in protest as people demanded action against the accused, which included shutting down his shop that was operated by his family members.
Blasphemy, especially any insult to the Prophet of Islam, is punishable by death as per the constitution of Pakistan, and has resulted in many instances of public lynching in the past few years. Only last month, a student was beaten to death on his university campus as he was suspected to have made some blasphemous comments on Facebook.
It appears that the mob in this particular incident wanted a similar lynching of Prakash as they demanded that he be handed over to them so that they could deliver ‘justice’ and ‘punish’ him.
— Anwar Ali Arqam (@aliarqam) May 4, 2017
When police refused to hand over the accused, the mob turned violent and attacked the police station. They could catch hold of Prakash and injure him, but the police rescued him and dispersed the mob. As least three police officers also sustained injuries in the violence.
Shops belonging to Hindus have especially been closed in the area fearing communal retribution while all roads in the area connecting Sindh to Balochistan have also been closed until further notice.
Incidentally a similar incident had taken back in India in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs in March this year.