Malik Imran Hanif, the manager of the National Bank of Pakistan, was shot by a security guard in Punjab’s Khushab district on Wednesday over a purported blasphemy allegation, police reported.
Hanif was the manager of NBP in Quaidabad tehsil, and was first taken to a local hospital. However, the nature of his gunshot wounds was so severe, he was shifted to Services Hospital in Lahore, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The guard who killed Hanif claims to have done so over blasphemy, but Khushab District Police Officer (r) Capt Tariq Wilayat said that it was too early to confirm this.
According to the initial reports, the two had been arguing for some time before the firing took place. Reportedly, the guard had been fired a few months back, but had recently been rehired.
The DPO felt sceptical of the guard’s blasphemy claims and said that it was likely this incident was due to personal grievances. However, a video of the incident emerged on social media, where the guard could be heard saying that the deceased manager had “insulted the prophet (PBUH)”.
Multiple videos of the occurrence emerged, in which the guard was seen being met with by a group of supporters, shouting slogans as they walked on the street, and then meeting the leaders of a religious group, all of whom raised slogans and addressed supporters from the rooftop of the Quaidabad Police Station.
However, another video showed the uncle of the deceased denying the guard’s claims, saying that they were Muslims, and had not insulted the prophet (PBUH). The uncle asserted the killing was due to personal reasons.
Human rights groups say blasphemy laws are often misused to persecute minorities or even against Muslims to settle personal rivalries. Such accusations can end up in lynchings or street vigilantism.
Up to 80 people are known to be imprisoned in the country on such charges — half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty — according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.