Police rescue woman surrounded by mob in Lahore over blasphemy allegations

Our Correspondent
February 26, 2024

Woman was saved by police just few minutes after being encircled by mob that wanted to punish her

ASP Shehrbano rescues the woman in Ichhra Bazaar in Lahore, in this still taken from a video (left), and the image of the dress that sparked the mob. — X/OfficialDPRPP/TahirAshrafi

LAHORE: The Punjab Police rescued a woman surrounded by a charged mob in the city'sIchhra Bazaar on Sunday on suspicion of blasphemy after she was seen wearing a printed shirt bearing Arabic script, The News reported on Monday.

The woman was saved by the law enforcers just a few minutes after being encircled and harassed by an angry crowd that wanted to punish her forallegedly wearing a dress that they thought was blasphemous as it adorned "holy verses" as the print.

Being unaware of what was waiting for her, the woman was accompanied by her husbandat the Ichhra Bazaar when some peopletried to attack her, after which she sought refuge in a nearby shop.

Upon receiving information about the incident, the Punjab Police — led by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Syeda Shehrbano Naqvi, who is thesub-divisional police officer atGulbarg Lahore — arrived at the scene to take the woman into their custody, saving her from the charged crowd.

According to the police, the woman, who declined to be named, said she had no intention to offend anyone’s sentiments.After verifying that it was a misunderstanding and the design on the shirt did not feature holy verses, she was released, police said.

Maryam Nawaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice president and chief minister-in-waiting, lauded the efforts of ASP Shehrbano for saving the woman's life and ensuring her protection following the incident.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal also appreciated the ASP for performing her duty with responsibility.

"Well done ASP Shehrbano!" the politician said, adding that everyone must save society from religious fanaticism.

A life was saved from being lost at the hands of the mob, the politician said.

On the other hand,Chairman Pakistan Ulema CouncilHafiz Muhammad Tahir Ashrafi also strongly condemned the harassment of the woman on the pretext of blasphemy.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Ashrafi wrote: On this occasion, the best efforts of the Ichhra police are commendable. But asking the woman to apologise was unjustified. The harassers should have instead apologised,"

The cleric added thatthose who harassed the woman in the name of blasphemy should apologise, terming the act "unacceptable".

Medal for ASP Shehrbano

Meanwhile, the Punjab Police, on X, praised ASPShehrbano for putting her "life in danger to rescue the woman from a violent crowd". The department has, therefore, recommended her name for being bestowed with a bravery medal.

"For this heroic deed, the Punjab Police has recommended her name for the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Police Medal (QPM), the highest gallantry award for law enforcement in Pakistan," the Punjab Police posted, citing Inspector General Punjab Dr Usman Anwar.

A screenshot of a post by Punjab Police on X shows ASP Shehrbano addressing the charged crowd. — X/OfficialDPRPP


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