20 suspected in 2014 Kot Radha Kishan lynching of Christian couple acquitted by ATC

Published March 24, 2018
This undated family handout photo shows the Christian couple who were killed by a lynch mob in Kot Radha Kishan ─ AFP/File
This undated family handout photo shows the Christian couple who were killed by a lynch mob in Kot Radha Kishan ─ AFP/File

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore on Saturday acquitted 20 people suspected of involvement in the lynching and burning alive of a Christian couple who were accused of blasphemy in Kot Radha Kishan in 2014.

Shahzad and Shama were burned alive in a brick kiln by a frenzied lynch mob ─ incited by announcements made from mosques in the area ─ ranging between 400-1,000 people for their alleged role in the desecration of the Holy Quran in Nov 2014. Both husband and wife were brick kiln workers, and the woman, a mother of three, was pregnant at the time. Police had registered a case against 660 villagers after the incident.

Read more: Tracing footsteps in Kot Radha Kishan

The court today acquitted 20 suspects, giving them the benefit of doubt. Among the 20, 15 people were identified as Faryad, Babar Ali, Islamuddin, Zulfiqar Ali, Arshad Ali, Jawed, Abid, Sabir, Muhammad Sharif, Sarfraz, Sultan, Aftab, Muhammad Ashraf, Abid Hasan, Asif and Owais.

The ATC in Nov 2016 sentenced five men to death on two counts for their involvement in the burning alive of Shahzad and Shama. Eight others were also charged with involvement in the lynching and sentenced to two years each in prison. In 2015, the ATC had indicted 106 suspected in the lynching.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence. Anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Opinion

Editorial

Spy games
Updated 02 Oct, 2022

Spy games

The audios leaked so far appear to have been carefully curated: they apply pressure but do not do major damage.
‘Geopolitical football’
02 Oct, 2022

‘Geopolitical football’

THE US-China rivalry is by all measures one of the globe’s most dangerous competitions for power and influence. ...
Fuel price reduction
02 Oct, 2022

Fuel price reduction

ISHAQ Dar is back; so are his signature policies. The reduction of a little over 5pc in fuel prices announced by him...
Untruths and politics
Updated 01 Oct, 2022

Untruths and politics

It would arguably be in the national interest for the Supreme Court to take up the cipher and settle the matter.
Farmers’ protest
01 Oct, 2022

Farmers’ protest

SEVERAL hundred farmers have converged on Islamabad for the last three days to protest against the soaring costs of...
Dasht-i-Barchi bombing
01 Oct, 2022

Dasht-i-Barchi bombing

ON Friday morning, Kabul’s Dasht-i-Barchi neighbourhood was rocked by a terrorist attack targeting an educational...