Pakistani cop held for murdering man acquitted of blasphemy charges

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Representative image
Representative image

Lahore [Pakistan], July 4 (ANI): A Punjab police constable was arrested on Saturday for murdering a man who was acquitted of blasphemy charges last year.

Muhammad Waqas was hacked to death on Friday in district Sadiqabad of Punjab. He was charged in a blasphemy case in 2016, reported The Express Tribune.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) overturned the conviction in 2020, and Waqas was released from prison.

As per police spokesperson, the constable, who joined the force just months ago, told investigators he killed Waqas because "he had committed blasphemy".

According to the Pakistani advocacy group Centre for Social Justice, between 1987 and 2017, an estimated number of 1,549 people have been charged under the draconian blasphemy laws; for comparison, before 1986, only 14 cases have been reported.

More than 70 cases of extrajudicial killings by vigilantes of those accused of blasphemy have taken place since the 1980s till the present day, the think tank stated.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been criticised by human rights groups who say they are often used maliciously and to persecute religious minorities in the Muslim majority country.

On May 12, the 2020 report International Religious Freedom released by the US Department of State highlighted a downward spiral of religious expression in Pakistan, most notably in the form of blasphemy laws, punishment for which ranges up to the death penalty.

Citing civil society reports, the IRF report mentioned that there were many individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges, at least 35 of whom had received death sentences, as compared with 82 individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges and 29 who received death sentences in 2019. (ANI)

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