Two Christian women were beaten and publicly humiliated by an angry mob in Pakistan over apparently frivolous blasphemy allegations, and subsequently, the duo, along with the family, has gone in hiding over fears of being killed.
The incident took place at a time when minority communities in Pakistan are said to be living in fear, following the Asia Bibi case and liberal politician Salman Taseer 's assassination.
"None of our relatives is ready to let us stay with them. They fear the wrath of the extremists, particularly after the assassination of Salman Taseer," The Express Tribune quoted a male member of the family, as telling over the phone from an undisclosed location.
According to the family, the blasphemy allegations stemmed from a dispute between a Muslim woman and her sister-in-law, who is a Christian, in an East Lahore locality.
A day after the two got into an argument, the Muslim woman walked out onto the street and started shouting that her sister-in-law had abused the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
A short while later, a group of men forced their way into the house and started slapping the Christian woman, said another of her brothers.
"Other men and women from the neighbourhood started gathering at the house too and they beat up my sister and mother. They were the only people in the house," he added.
A participant in the beating said that the women's faces were blackened, and that they were made to wear necklaces of shoes and paraded around the locality on donkeys to humiliate them. The women denied blaspheming and repeatedly touched their feet, seeking mercy, he added.
A member of a religious organisation, with which Taseer's assassin Malik Mumtaz Qadri is also associated, said he was very proud that his wife beat the Christian woman "more than anyone else"
"Her hand is so swollen that she hasn't been able to make rotis since the day of the incident. I've been getting my meals from a restaurant," he added.
An NGO worker helped the family flee the locality after they were attacked. "Apparently there was no blasphemy, just an argument between two women," he revealed.
He said that after hearing of the incident, he reached the scene to find the women being attacked.
He asked the mob if anyone had heard the Christian woman utter any blasphemous remarks, to which they all replied in the negative, said the NGO worker, adding that he then persuaded them to let the women go while he investigated the matter.
He said that he then helped relocate the family temporarily, and also convinced the mob not to involve the police. (ANI)