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Policeman Kills Blasphemy Accused

by AFP
Asif Hassan—AFP

Asif Hassan—AFP

Officials say ASI Faraz Naveed was arrested after he used an axe to kill a blasphemy accused man in lockup.

A policeman used an axe to kill a man arrested for allegedly committing blasphemy, officials said on Thursday, days after an enraged mob murdered a Christian couple accused of the same crime.

Tufail Haider, a 50-year-old Shia Muslim, was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks toward the companions of Islam’s Prophet and brought to the Civil Lines police station in Gujrat on Wednesday.

“Tufail was kept in the lock-up but he continued uttering derogatory remarks and hurled abuse at policemen. He looked like a malang and seemed mentally imbalanced,” said duty officer Ali Raza. “Assistant Sub-Inspector Faraz Naveed, 36, became very angry on hearing the derogatory remarks against the companions of Islam’s Prophet and he killed the detainee with an axe in the lock up,” he added.

Naveed has been arrested and legal proceedings have been started against him, he added.

Around 1,000 Shia Muslims have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 percent of the country’s 180 million-strong population, most of whom are Muslim.

There has been a recent surge in extra-judicial killings linked to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which were put in place during the period of British rule and strengthened by former military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. A Christian bonded laborer and his pregnant wife were killed Tuesday for allegedly desecrating pages of the Quran in Chak 59, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who has been on death row since November 2010 when she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet during an argument with a Muslim woman, lost an appeal last month.

The latest incident is also similar to the September shooting of an elderly British man, sentenced to death for blasphemy in January, who is mentally ill. An internal investigation found that the guard had been radicalized and goaded into the shooting by Mumtaz Qadri, the police bodyguard who murdered Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011 for suggesting reform of the blasphemy laws.

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