Shocking video footage of the lynching of two youths by a mob in the presence of policemen in Pakistan's central Punjab province has prompted the Supreme Court Chief Justice to order authorities to take stern action against the killers.
Civil society groups and the media have expressed concern about the incident that occurred in Sialkot district on August 15, saying it reflected the "growing intolerance" in Pakistani society.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry took suo moto notice of the incident after TV news channels beamed footage of the youths – Hafiz Mughees, 21, and his brother Hafiz Muneeb, 16 – being beaten to death by a group of men armed with sticks and rods.
Sialkot district police chief Waqar Chauhan, eight other policemen and hundreds of people watched the lynching.
The video aired by news channels showed that the youths were hit repeatedly by some men.
The mob later hung the bodies of the brothers upside down in a square.
According to a First Information Report filed by police, the brothers were going to meet their relatives in Buttar village when some people caught them and accused them of being robbers.
In a brazen display of mob justice, they tortured the brothers, killed them and then hung their bodies and tried to burn them.
The family of the youths has demanded justice and stern legal action against police officials who failed to rescue the brothers.
The family said the youths were killed in the wake of a dispute over a cricket match they played some time ago.
The Deputy Commissioner of Sialkot said a charged mob killed the two brothers for injuring four people in a dispute over a cricket match.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ordered Anti-Corruption Director General Justice (retired) Kazim Malik to investigate the matter.
"No one will dare to take the law into his own hands if police had the courage and command to eradicate such brutal and inhuman practices from society," Chaudhry said while heading a bench that heard the suo moto case yesterday.
The atmosphere in the apex court became tense when the gruesome video of the killing of the brothers was shown in the courtroom.
When district police chief Chauhan informed the court that Station House Officer Rana Mohammed Ilyas had been arrested but the killers were yet to be detained, the Chief Justice said Chauhan deserved to be suspended and sent to jail.