74 per cent blasphemy cases reported from Punjab Province in Pak: report

Islamabad, Pakistan Published: Mar 12, 2018, 11:47 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Others )

Nearly 74 per cent of blasphemy-related cases have been reported in the Punjab Province in Pakistan, according to a report by the country's Center for Social Justice (CSJ) on Monday.

The report revealed that there has been an "extraordinary increase" in the number of blasphemy cases in the Punjab Province for the last three decades, especially in Lahore district.

It also stated that over 11 per cent of all blasphemy cases in Pakistan originated from Lahore district. Around 173 cases have been verified in the district, The Express Tribune reported.

Out of the 75 people killed in relation to alleged blasphemy until January this year, 14 murders took place in Lahore, including the murder of retired Pakistani judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti. In relation to blasphemy cases, at least four murders took place during police custody or in prison, the report added.

"The stories of men and women of different faiths present shocking accounts of brutality and enormous suffering of helpless victims. Hundreds of people have been tortured, jailed, and imprisoned. Property worth billions of rupees were destroyed by an angry mob on the Lahore Mall Road in 2006 and at Joseph Colony in 2013. But the economic loss is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the social, political and cultural consequences in Lahore", the CSJ said in a statement.

"Recent studies by Amnesty International have documented that the blasphemy law is widely abused to perpetrate hate crimes based on religion, regulate personal vendettas and perpetuate economic injustice," it added.

The report also highlighted that Lahore district was home to many groups promoting religious intolerance and it was due to this that the district has become an "epicentre" of the abuse of blasphemy laws.

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