The malang, whom many people of the area also described to be a man not very sound of mind, had been taken into custody by the area’s police after some people accused him of desecrating the sanctity of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
So on Wednesday as the malang sat behind bars at a police lock-up and as most of the cops kept giving him sideways glances, cracking vague, pitying grins at the malang’s state of mind and habit of talking to himself, the mob surrounded the police station, demanding that the ‘blasphemer’ be handed over.
The cops refused, pleading that the case against the man shall be decided by the courts. As if already surprised that their fellow Muslims in uniforms hadn’t lynched the ‘blasphemer’ themselves, the mob thrust forward in an attempt to break into the police station.
A few cops rushed out with batons and teargas canisters trying to push the mob back that by now had grown to over a hundred enraged men with an audience of another hundred or so onlookers who, as usual, hang around such situations like silent, inanimate zombies.
As one of the cops frantically pleaded for reinforcements from his superiors on the phone, the mob had already barged into the lock-up. They went straight for the room in which the malang was being held.
Newspapers reported that the room/jail was being guarded by two armed policemen. A reporter of an Urdu daily told me that the cops did raise and point their guns at the approaching mob and wanted to fire, but seeing they were heavily outnumbered they decided to simply block the way.
Of course, how could they have? They were not only brushed away but mercilessly beaten, as the mob finally broke into the room, got hold of the terrified malang, dragged him outside and began to beat him with fists, kicks, iron rods and sticks.
Some witnesses (the mesmerised zombies) told reporters that they could hear the malang screaming and pleading the mob for mercy. But the onlookers stood still and so did the bruised cops, praying that the promised reinforcements would arrive before the mob slaughtered the malang and send him to hell for insulting Islam – the ‘religion of peace.’
The reinforcements did arrive. But by then the mob had had its fill of vengeance and blood. It had battered a vagabond and a mentally disturbed person to death. And as if that wasn’t enough to quench its blood thirst, it set the limp, bloodied body of the man on fire!
Deluded as we have become about our religious and national identities and priorities, I’m sure after seeing flames rise from the evil blasphemer’s dead body, many pious men in the mob must have looked at the sky, trying to penetrate their blood-shot gaze into the seventh sky where God resides, expecting the Almighty to begin showering rose petals on them.
That didn’t happen, and no one was willing to suggest that in all probability God had actually been repulsed by the act.
Yet again, the nation heard and saw its faith and holy texts being ‘avenged’ not by God-fearing men, but by a mob of retarded, subhuman filth.
Almost all leading media outlets in the country carried the horrific story. And so did the western media that continues to scratch its head trying to figure out just how inflammable and helplessly retarded Pakistan’s state institutions, judiciary, politics and society have become.
The self-claimed ‘bastion of Islam’ has gradually mutated into becoming a bastion of deluded messiahs and mindless, violent ranting machines to whom anything, from incoherent malangs to the reopening of Nato supply routes, are conspiracies against Islam.
Even more than 24 hours after the gruesome incident, no-one seems to even know the murdered man’s name.
Who was he? Did he really desecrate the Quran? Or was he too a victim of the many reasons that usually drive conniving men to whip up hatred among impressionable, frustrated people to settle personal and economic scores against enemies by accusing him/her of blasphemy?
Or was the incident part of the 200-year-old battle between the Sunni Barelvi and Sunni Deobandi groups in the subcontinent in which both the sides have denounced each another as heretical?
Ever since the reactionary Ziaul Haq dictatorship began to give shape to laws that would eventually become to be known as the ‘Blasphemy Laws,’ it is believed more than 60 per cent of cases concerning one party accusing the other of blasphemy involve Barelivis and Deobandis pointing fingers at each other.
Various governments that took over after Zia’s demise in 1988, especially those belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the one run by General Pervez Musharraf, have made several attempts to repeal the laws that various moderate and liberal Islamic scholars have insisted has no precedence in the history of Islamic jurisprudence.