Christian couple burned alive in a brick kiln in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: A married Christian couple was on Tuesday
thrashed and burned alive by an angry mob in Pakistan’s Punjab province for
allegedly desecrating a copy of the Holy Quran. The incident took place in Kot
Radha Kishan town, about 60 kilometres southwest of Lahore city.
The victims, identified as Shama and Shehzad, were
burned alive in a brick kiln where they used to work. “A mob attacked a
Christian couple after accusing them of desecration of the Holy Quran and later
burnt their bodies in a brick kiln,” a news agency quoted senior police
official Bin-Yameen as saying.
“Yesterday an incident of desecration of the Holy
Quran took place in the area and today the mob first beat the couple and later
set their bodies on fire in a brick kiln,” he added.
Blasphemy and the draconian laws dealing with it are
highly sensitive issues in Pakistan, even the courts and legislators think
twice before dwelling into the sensitivities of these issues.
The controversial blasphemy laws were formulated in
the 1980s during the martial law regime of General Zia-ul-Haq. A conviction or
merely an accusation of blasphemy can put one’s life in danger. Even if one is
acquitted, the fear of death at the hands of vigilantes remains.
A Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, has been on death row
since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making blasphemous remarks
about Prophet Muhammad during a quarrel with a Muslim woman. Two prominent
politicians who were campaigning for the release of Aasia Bibi and reform of
the law were ruthlessly murdered in Pakistan’s capital. Ex-Punjab governor,
Salman Taseer, was shot dead in January 2011 by his own bodyguard while the
then federal minister for minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed in March
Mumtaz Qadri, Taseer’s murderer, currently lives
comfortably in a special cell at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail. No lawyer has come
forward to prosecute the case and there is no one, even from amongst those who
were present on the scene at the time of murder, ready to stand in the witness
box against Qadri.