Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has been told that the majority of perpetrators in several recent incidents of mob lynchings on allegation of blasphemy were young people, highlighting a concerning trend of violence among the country’s male youth.
“In the ghastly murder of the Sri Lankan national [Priyantha Kumara] in Sialkot, 120 out the 130 suspects were between 18 and 20 years of age,” Human Rights Secretary Inamullah Khan told committee members on Friday, as reported in Dawn.
Similarly, most of the men involved in the mob lynching of a mentally ill man accused of blasphemy in Mian Channu were reportedly in their 30s, the secretary noted, adding that such violent tendencies among 19 to 30 year olds were influenced by social media forums.
“This was the only case where the police were unable to control a violent mob and save the deceased from vigilante justice”, reported Additional Inspector General Sahibzada Shahzad Sultan.
Chaired by Senator Walid Iqbal, the meeting was attended by senators Falak Naz and Mohammad Tahir Bizenjo, officials from the Ministry of Human Rights, and the additional inspector general (operations) and district police officer (DPO) Mian Channu.
The committee called for stakeholders to develop a strategy to counter the prevailing violent tendencies, and instead ‘spread the true spirit of Islam and its stance on tolerance’. They also decided to write a letter apprising the president, prime minister, and the speaker of the National Assembly of the matter.
Since the country’s foundation, at least 89 people accused of blasphemy have been extrajudicially murdered, many of them by violent mobs, with the majority of the incidents occurring in Punjab. According to a report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad, in 2021 five people were murdered on allegations of committing blasphemy.
Between 1987 and 2021, blasphemy accusations have gone up a reported 1,3000 per cent. During these three decades, the number of cases reported jumped to 1,428 including 81 instances where the accused were extrajudicially murdered.