This time, it is Shama Bibi and Shehzad Masih; a young Christian couple who used to work at a brick kiln, beaten to death and their bodies burnt by an enraged mob over accusations of blasphemy.

Rimsha Masih, a Christian minor, was wrongly accused of blasphemy by a local cleric and such was proven in a court of law. The conspiring cleric remains a free man, and Rimsha now resides somewhere in Canada with the rest of her family since her home country can only promise death. In Gojra, Joseph Colony and Shanti Nagar, Christian residents and their homes were set on fire over accusations of blasphemy. The courts cleared all the culprits in those cases –the conveniently enraged mobs, the individuals leading them as well as complicit or negligent police officials. Mob leaders are still available to lead another mob, against another hapless, vulnerable community, on another fine evening of passionate crimes that lead, apparently, to heaven. Police officials have been promoted and are likely to look the other way.

Today, in Lahore, Kasur, Faisalabad, Multan and everywhere else in Pakistan, murderers who willingly participated in the lynching and killing of innocents freely wander the streets, as they go on with their routine lives having ended so many. Putting everything aside, the true promise of impunity is at the core of the problem of vigilante justice. They kill. The state, through all its institutions, reassures that they can afford to do so. Emboldened and unafraid, they kill again.

The principal accused in the latest case, owner of brick kiln identified so far as Mr Gujjar, who accused the couple of desecrating a copy of the Quran and locked them up in a room instead of handing them over to the Police, still hasn’t been arrested. The clerics, who gathered people by making fiery announcements from their mosques, also remain free. A majority of the mob that killed Shama and Shehzad have not been apprehended.

The three-member committee formed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to probe the matter is not expected to yield desired results. The Punjab government has a shameful record of ensuring accountability in such cases. Blasphemy laws or religious fervor cannot be allowed to be used as a defense for extrajudicial killing. Such laws, for as long as they continue to be a blot on the Constitution, should serve to remind everyone just how far we are lagging behind in our social and cultural evolution.