Police and eyewitnesses in eastern Pakistan say an angry crowd attacked and beat a married Christian couple to death, after accusing them of desecrating a Quran. The mob later burned the bodies in the brick kiln where the victims worked.
The deadly incident took place Tuesday in the town of Kot Radha Kishan about 60 kilometers southwest of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province.
The killing has outraged rights groups who are demanding the attackers be swiftly brought to justice, saying circumstances around the allegations are unclear.
Provincial authorities have launched an investigation into the violence and ordered police to increase security at minority Christian neighborhoods across Punjab.
The London-based Amnesty International has condemned the incident and demanded authorities must bring to justice those responsible for the vicious mob killing of the minority Christian couple accused of blasphemy.
“This type of violence is fueled by Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws, which add to the climate of fear for religious minorities. In this case, a mob appears to have played judge, jury and executioner,” the organization said in a statement, again demanding Pakistan urgently reform its controversial blasphemy laws.
Amnesty International says that the Punjab government’s immediate response is encouraging, but it remains to be seen what comes of the investigation. The rights group said the climate of impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan is pervasive and it is all too rare that those behind attacks are held to account.
A Christian woman, Asia Bibi, has been on death row since November 2010, after a court found her guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Muslim prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman. Critics say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used by influential members to settle personal disputes.