Pakistan brick kiln killings: wife may have been pregnant

Protesters against Pakistan's Blasphemy Law speaking to MP David Burrowes.CLAAS-UK

"Mob justice" is becoming prevalent in Pakistan, according to the head of a minority rights organisation working in the country.

Two Christians were killed yesterday in Kot Radha Kishan, a small town about 40 miles from Lahore, by a mob who believed they had desecrated the Quran.

The killing is the latest in a series of attacks and accusations against Christians and other minorities in the country based on Pakistan's controversial and widely abused Blasphemy Law. 

Nasir Saeed, director of the UK branch of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK), said: "It is atrocious that people can take matters into their own hands and kill someone on a mere allegation.

"Mob justice is becoming prevalent, despite it being the job of the police and courts to prosecute, convict and punish someone if found guilty.

"The Blasphemy Law continues to be misused against minorities and Christians are the main target. It is the government's duty to take notice of the growing popularity of such incidents and pass the necessary legislation."

More details have emerged since the killings, including news that Shehzad Masih and his wife Shama Bibi may still have been alive when they were thrown into a brick kiln furnace.

The couple had three children aged between 18 months and seven years, and Shama is believed to have been pregnant.

According to Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a lawyer and human rights defender who visited the scene of the event, the couple fell foul of communal suspicion when Shama burned some papers belonging to her husband's deceased father. A Muslim man spread the word the she was burning the Quran and a 100-strong mob took the couple hostage.

Another report said that the couple had asked to leave the kiln where they worked because they were not being paid. According to a relative, Emaneul Sarfraz, the owner of the kiln, Muhammad Yousuf Gujjar, demanded Rs 5,000,000 compensation from them and locked them up for two days before a mob came for them.

A committee has been formed to investigate the killings and 43 people have been arrested. However, Saeed said that the Pakistani government continued to ignore the urgent need to deal with the growing influence of extremists and abuse of the Blasphemy Laws.

He added: "Enough blood has been shed because of this law, and time and time again it has been proven that this laws is being misused to settle personal scores by individuals and religious extremists.

"Therefore there is an urgent and blatant need to amend these laws accordingly, but unfortunately the cries are falling on the deaf ears of the government and the Pakistani politicians."