A 52-year-old Muslim man, who served more than three years in jail on charges of blasphemy, was gunned down Thursday in what police say appears to be a religiously-driven attack. Muhammad Khan, a senior police officer, said that Abid Mehmood, also known as Abid Kazaab (liar), was found dead in a deserted area in Taxila town of Rawalpindi district a day after being abducted by unknown masked men from his home. Mehmood was arrested in October 2011 under blasphemy laws following accusations that he had declared himself to be a prophet. Abid was released from jail a few days ago on medical grounds, but his release was kept confidential by close family members. “We have launched investigations to ascertain whether or not his murder is linked with blasphemy,” Khan told ucanews.com. Calling Abid Mehmood an apostate, some enraged people blocked his burial in the main cemetery, forcing relatives to bury him in the courtyard of his home in his home village of Khanpur Dam. Nawa-i-Waq, a widely-circulated Urdu daily, reported that some local influential figures and clerics issued a joint statement on Wednesday to demand a probe into the release of the “apostate”. “Kazaab’s wife, children, sisters, brothers and other relatives had submitted separate affidavits to disown him after his false proclamation of prophethood,” the statement said. It further urged a high-level inquiry be conducted regarding his release and if any relative is found involved in his release, they too should be apprehended. A source privy to the issue told ucannews.com that the victims’ family went into hiding owing to fears of attacks from fanatics and extremist groups. Insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad carries the death sentence under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. Mere allegations can trigger mob attacks or lead to extra-judicial killings. In November last year, a married Christian couple accused of blasphemy was burned to death by a mob of hundreds of Muslims in Kot Radha Kishan village, Kasur.
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