CHITRAL -  The district administration of Chitral has imposed Section 144 in the district after situation went out of control as enraged residents are trying to kill a person who allegedly committed blasphemy.

Chitral Deputy Commissioner Shahab Hameed Yousafzai said that all sort of public gatherings, pillion-riding and assembly of more than three people have been banned while educational institutions and business centres will also remain closed till normalisation of the situation.

Local sources said a 22-year-old man Rashid committed blasphemy during the Friday sermon in a local mosque and then immediately sought apology when people stood up to beat him. The prayer leader of the mosque handed him over to police, but the angry mob attacked the police station and tried to break its gate. They also pelted stones on the police station after which policemen fired teargas shells and resorted to aerial firing to disperse the crowd. The crowd was asking the police either to hand over Rashid to them or punish him on the spot.

The protest by the enraged public continued till late in the night while District Nazim Maghfirat Shah and the DC also failed to convince them to go back. The Frontier Corps personnel were also called in to the spot to hold negotiations with the angry protesters.

The district administration told journalists that blasphemy and terrorism cases have been registered against the accused and a medical board will also be constituted to ascertain his mental health.

According to some locals, Rashid was sent back from Qatar by his Pakistani friends by collecting donations due to his worsening mental condition. They said that the accused is known for his mental instability.

On Saturday, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) ordered local police to form a medical board to assess the mental and physical health of the blasphemy accused.

Gul Hamaad Farooqi