Pakistan factory gutted over blasphemy allegations

Islamabad, Nov 21 (IANS) An enraged mob in Pakistan’s Punjab province set a factory on fire after rumours circulated in the area and announcements were made from mosques levelling blasphemy allegations against the owner and workers of the establishment.

No casualties were reported from Friday night’s attack on the factory in Jhelum district, Dawn online reported.

At least five men were arrested in relation to the blasphemy allegations on suspicion that few workers of the chipboard production factory desecrated pages of the Holy Quran. Four of them were later released.

After this, people in the area approached local mosques to make announcements against the release of the four men.

Following the announcements, people gathered and set ablaze the factory.

The mob later moved to the Grand Trunk Road, blocked the route and chanted slogans against the police.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells at the mob which resorted to aerial firing. Three people were reportedly injured in the clash.

Jhelum district coordination officer (DCO) Mujhaid Akbar Khan tried talking to members of the mob but that did not yield any results.

Subsequently, armed forces’ personnel were called in and the road resumed again six hours after the disturbance.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence and killings.

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