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EDITORIAL: Gruesome mob violence on one pretext or another goes on in this country mainly because the perpetrators are rarely, if at all, held to account.

In separate incidents in Karachi on Sunday night, two suspected robbers, both in their early 20s, were lynched to death.

According to the police, a family was travelling in a rickshaw at around midnight when two ‘armed’ robbers snatched their mobile phones near Orangi Town.

The family put up resistance and caught one of them. Meanwhile, a mob gathered on the scene and subjected the ‘armed’ robber to grievous violence.

He died in hospital. In the other incident in a neighborhood adjacent to Orangi Town, Qasba Colony, a mob tortured a suspected robber to death.

The next evening, claiming that their boys were innocent relatives of the alleged robber killed in Qasba Colony and his injured companion staged a protest demonstration, where somebody opened fire resulting in bullet injuries to three people.

Two of them were pronounced dead on arrival in hospital, which suggests whosoever shot at the three protesters, might have instigated the crowd in the lynching case out of a personal motive.

It was only after the killings led to protest and more violence that the Additional Inspector General of Police formed an inquiry committee, which is to submit its report within three days. The two incidents of lynching in just one evening also call for serious introspection by those at the helm.

Although it is not known whether the victims were indeed robbers, phone snatching is quite common in the country’s chief city, which is reflective of a poor state of law and order.

True, such crimes take place in other cities as well but not as frequently as in Karachi. In fact, it is not unusual there for people to keep one cheap phone to hand to prospective muggers and the costly ones in some hidden place. If the cost of living graph keeps rising at the present rate, street crimes will rise everywhere, especially in urban centres.

It is pertinent to recall here that when the first wave of Covid-19 hit this country, and the government imposed a general lockdown (before resorting to smart lockdowns in the affected areas only), many people lost their jobs resulting in a sudden spike in gunpoint robberies at ATMs and around neighbourhood markets in cities like Lahore. No one in positions of authority seems to have given a thought to this aspect of law and order.

There is no other way to treat brutal killings, like the two alleged robbers, on the basis of a presumed or real offence, as an abhorrent crime that has no place in any civilised society. Those who take law into their own hands must bear the consequences.

Unfortunately, over the years lynch mobs have killed several people falsely accused of blasphemy, invariably provoked by individuals having an axe to grind with the victims. So far, except for sentencing of the six men directly involved in the horrific lynching of a Sri Lankan manager of a Sialkot factory, it is not known if any of the others has been punished for the heinous crime.

Not long ago, a seated crowd, including the local police chief, had watched the lynching of two young brothers allegedly for committing robberies, as if they were in sitting in a movie theatre. Yet the police officer was not held to account for his callous disregarded for human lives and the law; he even managed to keep his job. All such people must be handed the severest punishment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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