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Thursday, February 15, 2024

It is high time we fixed mob taking over Pakistan! – Maleeha Hashmey

On August 15, 2010, two brothers named “Muneeb” and “Mughees” were brutally mob lynched and hung publicly over the allegation of theft. Ten years down the lane, it is all pretty much the same. The crazy mob mentality, the insurmountable intolerance, the sheer lack of understanding of Islam which strictly forbids such lawlessness still exists.

A religion which is fundamentally based on the fair principle of “He who kills an innocent individual, kills all of humanity”. There could have been no bigger disservice than brutally murdering innocent people in that very religion’s name.

Priyantha Kumara, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan residing in Pakistan for over a decade, who was serving Rajco Industries, located at Wazirabad Road, as a Quality Assurance Manager, got mercilessly murdered by a charged mob that set his mutilated corpse on fire, alleging him of having committed blasphemy.

Some of them went ahead with gleefully confessing being part of this extrajudicial murder flaunting it as a huge victory. Others were busy taking selfies with his & Pakistan’s esteem’s ashy remains.

His only crime, as per the initial reports, was diligently performing his duty as a Quality Assurance Manager, directing the staff to take the “irrelevant” stickers off the machines, like any sensible person holding that managerial portfolio would have said, as the company expected a foreign company’s visit soon.

Read more: Not in my religion’s name please 

What exactly had been penned down on the much talked about stickers is yet to be disclosed, but as per our credible sources, the CCTV footage has proved that Priyantha DID NOT bin any of those stickers, contrary to what that ignorant, misguided and unforgivable mob that lynched him, claimed.

While the Sri Lankan Government has shown full confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan with respect to bringing the monstrous perpetrators of this horrific vigilante attack to justice and same assurance has been sent across by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the following words;

“I am overseeing the investigations and let there be no mistake, all those responsible will be punished with full severity of law. Arrests are in progress”

There is a complete behavioural overhaul that desperately needs to be undertaken by the State of Pakistan. This mob lynching mindset needs to be fought with might, logic and strategic thought process backed by action.

Read more: Rape victims don’t lose honour, the rapists do! 

Merely stating that this mob doesn’t represent Pakistan and the only sensible human, Malik Adnan (Production Manager in the same factory), who kept shielding his co-worker Priyantha Kumara for 45 long minutes and kept getting severely thrashed, does, will not hush away this gigantic curse that is staring us in the eye and is in the process of engulfing the entire society.

This is not a one-off criminal act. There have been many such horrific incidents which engulfed many precious human lives and the Police stood still like a clueless spectator.

On August 15, 2010, a similar shameful incident took place in the same city (Sialkot), where two brothers named “Muneeb” and “Mughees” were brutally mob lynched and hung publicly over the allegation of theft. The police stood there like a bystander and seemed to be as clueless as any other spectator watching it all in awe, as if they would be next if they intervened.

Ten years down the lane, it is all pretty much the same. The crazy mob mentality, the insurmountable intolerance, the sheer lack of understanding of Islam (which strictly forbids deliberately hurting any living being, let alone “murdering an innocent human and setting their corpse on fire), the lack of courage in the law enforcement personnel and their failure to promptly react and troubleshoot, the masses’ lack of confidence in the institutions responsible to ensure the “rule of law”, the shallow reassurances regarding “all the culprits to be brought to justice” and last but not the least, majority of the “culprits” vacationing on bail making victory signs.

Read more: Why punishing the Sialkot culprits in not enough?

Above all, the vast majority of people holding responsible positions staying silent over such issues dreading the outcome they might have to face in case their sensible word on the matter ends up offending the misguided charged mob.

I still remember covering the final hearing on Aasia Masih’s case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, where we all saw her being acquitted in a “fair and square” manner. It turned out that the man “Qari Islam” who had lodged the “blasphemy complaint” against her could neither gather any substantial evidence against the woman who remained behind the bars for nearly a decade, for a sin she never committed, nor was he even there when two girls, named “Aafia” & “Maafia” who right after having an exchange of hot words with Aasia Masih, rushed to their Female Quran teacher, who asked her husband “Qari Islam” to get a blasphemy complaint lodged against Aasia Masih.

Salman Taseer was murdered for only stating what the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan concluded after nine long years. Today, his murderer “Mumtaz Qadri” who clearly indulged in an “extrajudicial killing” in the name of religion, defaming it instead, is cherished as a late popular Islamic leader by his fan base.

Despite the fact that Aasia Masih won the case on merit, not many people dared drawing the “factual” picture to the masses, smashing the “misconceptions” created about her case, only because they dreaded being the next “Salman Taseer”.

Read more: Op-ed: Looking back at Salman Taseer’s killing

About time we began to call a spade, a spade, without mincing words, throwing away the sheet of cowardice and fear of being the next victim to this ignorant, misguided, regressive mindset driven mob, that has been fed hatred for anyone and everyone who is not equally ignorant and regressive.

The sooner we take the disastrous bull bulldozing the fair values of Islam and Pakistan, by the horns, the better. About time we mustered the courage to put our house in order, roping all the religious sects in harmoniously, asking them all to openly condemn this bloodshed, naming and shaming it for what it is, as Quran, nowhere, teaches or justifies this insanity. It is the other way around, as a matter of fact. Every religious scholar, irrespective of which sect they represent, should come forward and pour in their much needed bit to crush falsehood.

Our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) was the epitome of composure, grace, tolerance, kindness and compassion. He inspired the humanity through his actions to the extent that today, even after centuries of His passing, Islam remains the most practiced religion in the world.

It was the worst of all people, who got inspired by the incredible conduct of our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) and embraced Islam.

Read more: Opinion: Is Pakistan’s blasphemy law a result of the ulema-state alliance?

Priyantha Kumara’s murder is a test case for the State of Pakistan. If the culprits are duly brought to justice just as they should be, as per the Constitution of Pakistan, it will blow new life to the gutted and shattered homeland, otherwise let’s not be surprised if you or I end up being the next unfortunate victim to this horrific mob lynching exercise, as they right said & I quote:

“First they came for the Communists, And I did not speak out Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists, And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, And there was no one left To speak out for me”

Maleeha Hashmey is a broadcast journalist in Pakistan. She hosts her television program on Public News and serves United Nations as a Consultant. This article originally appeared in The Nation and has been republished with the author’s permission. She can be reached on Twitter at @maleehahashmey. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.