A man from a minority Islamic sect facing blasphemy charges has been murdered in a police station in central Pakistan.
Khalil Ahmed, an Ahmadi, was shot dead in the village of Bohi Wal in the district of Sheikhupura, Punjab province, police said on Friday.
A representative of the Ahmadi community, which is among the most persecuted of Pakistan’s minorities, also confirmed the incident.
“Khalil Ahmed, in his sixties, was facing blasphemy charges and was locked up in the police station. The police told us that he has been shot dead inside the cell,” said Saleem Uddin, a member of the Ahmadi community.
A local police official in Sheikhupura said the local Ahmadi community clashed with the Muslim population five days ago over anti-Ahmadi posters pasted outside a village shop.
“Three young boys from the (Ahmadi) community protested to the shopkeeper over the posters. The verbal brawl soon turned into a clash … as people from the Ahmadi and Muslim community joined them.
“Religious leaders started making announcements from the local mosques accusing Khalil, who had joined the three young people, of committing blasphemy against Islam.”
Ehasan Elahi, a senior police official, said a report was lodged against the three boys and Ahmed for insulting Islam.
Elahi said the boys were freed on bail while an application of bail for the release of Ahmed was pending with a local court when he was shot dead inside the police lock-up.
“A young man in his late teen years wearing police uniform came to the police station and asked about Khalil. The police told him that Khalil is in the lock-up. He went straight to the lock-up and asked for Khalil and shot him dead,” Elahi said, adding the man was arrested on the spot.
“He is a student and we are investigating him,” he said.
Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in 1974 for their belief in a prophet after Mohammed.
A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.