An Artist killed in Lahore under the pretexts of Blasphemy, Social Media reacts

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News Analysis |

Almost two weeks ago, an artist from Sindh came to Lahore for an art show. The artist, who was identified as Qutub Rind, 32, had an argument with the owner of the flat he was living in. The owner, Ahsan, came along with his brother Waqas to see Mr.Rind at night again. According to the reports, three people tortured Mr. Rind and threw him off the building. Due to severe head injuries, Mr.Rind could not survive.

Initially, the culprits claimed that Mr.Rind was involved in some anti-Islamic activities and, therefore, he was killed for “insulting” the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.H). Later on, the police confirmed that there was no “blasphemy”, rather it was the case of a personal dispute where Mr. Rind was demanded to pay the rent of the flat twice in a month.

The literature on the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan reflects that those involved in its misuse are responsible for polarizing and dividing the society.

According to media reports, when Mr.Rind refused to pay the money to the owner who is a drug addict, the latter killed the former. Although this incident took place almost two weeks ago, yet media remained unaware of the development until it became a top trend on social media.

Social media outrage

In Pakistan, it has become a trend to misuse the religion to teach a lesson to one’s rivals. Organizations and individuals are targeted for allegedly being anti-Islam or insulting some sacred personalities. This trend has made the society vulnerable and highly polarized.

Social media expressed the same outrage over the murder of Mr. Rind and, more importantly, people were conscious to point out that how the brutality is being done under the pretexts of religion.

Read more: Why the corrupt use of the Blasphemy law undermines all

A journalist tweeted a picture of Mr. Rind’s work and expressed her anger over the silence of media and activists. “16-Days ago, first position holder artist #QutubRind in #NCA was brutally murdered in the name of #Blasphemy in #Lahore #Punjab. Media and activists remain silent. Do we have the voice of an artist who was killed? #Justice4QutubRind #Sindh Art by Qutub R”

In another tweet, she said that “#QutubRind‘s uncle said that a blasphemy was used as a pretext to murder Qutub Rind. He was a Sufi said, uncle Gul Baig. He further added, police refused to write names of killers in FIR, according to a report. #JusticeForQutubRind

Another user demanded the Supreme Court of Pakistan take notice of the dark tragedy which took place in the heart of Lahore. “Supreme Court should be taken notes of Qutub Rind Murder Case. #Justice4QutubRind who was murdered on a pretext of blasphemy in #Lahore Let’s come to raise voice for him. He was an artist who earned name & establishes art gallery”

Ms, Fatima Bhutto also tweeted and asked who will give justice to the family of Mr. Rind. “Beaten, legs and arms broken, pushed off a third-floor balcony on false charges of blasphemy. Who will give Qutub Rind’s family justice?”

Journalist Naila Inayat said Mr. Rind was another Mashal Khan. Mr.Mashal was lynched by his own classmates in the University of Mardan under the pretexts of blasphemy. Later on, it was proved that there was no blasphemy but some narrow interests of the university administration. “Another Mashal.

The misuse of the blasphemy law and brutal murders committed under the pretexts of blasphemy are condemned by the majority of Pakistan. The misuse of religion by individuals and organizations is not confined to any particular ethnicity.

Young Sindhi artist #QutubRind, a student of National College of Arts in Lahore, killed in Lahore on July 17 over alleged #blasphemy. His family says he was beaten to a pulp and then pushed down from 3rd floor. Police made arrests in the case but didn’t share names.”

Blasphemy and Ethnicity: Two sides of the same coin

The literature on the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan reflects that those involved in its misuse are responsible for polarizing and dividing the society. Similarly, voluminous literature available on the politics of ethnicity in Pakistan also reveals that the politicization of ethnicity causes instability and also hinders the process of national integration.

Read more: Social media ban: Blasphemy or a political reason?

Dr. Rehana Saeed Hashmi, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of the Punjab, Lahore, has recommended the state to take into account the grievances of the ‘marginalized’ groups if it is serious about the process of national integration. Similarly, in the case of Mr. Rind, some newspapers and social media users have repeatedly said that a “Sindhi artists killed in Lahore over blasphemy allegations”. For many well-thought people, it is undesirable and politically dangerous.

A drug addict killed a person over the issue of payment of rent and it has nothing to do with being Sindhi or Punjabi, a Sindhi student told GVS. “I am shocked to see how media is repeatedly saying Sindhi artist killed in Lahore. It will have pernicious effects. It will help Sindhi nationalists to expand their movement and its scope,” he added.

Read more: Of blasphemy laws & woman protection bill: law of unintended consequences!

The misuse of the blasphemy law and brutal murders committed under the pretexts of blasphemy are condemned by the majority of Pakistan. The misuse of religion by individuals and organizations is not confined to any particular ethnicity. Therefore, ethnicity should not be linked with the killing of a person over some personal grudges, otherwise, it will widen the gaps in culturally heterogeneous and politically unstable Pakistani society.

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