Two Muslims, Mashal Khan and Alimuddin Ansari alias Asghar Ali, hailing from different parts of the world became victim of mob lynching because of the rumors that they had committed blasphemy; one of them was lynched by the Muslims and the other by the Hindus. Both the accusations were later found to be false but, it wasn’t the end of the story; what followed next was as tormenting as the initial incidents.Shocked by the intensity of horrendous barbarity with which these hapless persons were killed by the unruly mobs moved the courts of justices in India and Pakistan to run the trials on fast track basis and announce their verdicts within the shortest possible time. In Mashal Khan’s case, the Pakistani court sentenced a convict to death, five to 25 years’ imprisonment, and 25 to four years’ imprisonment while 26 were acquitted. The Indian court, on the other hand, awarded life imprisonment to 11 persons in Alimuddin’s case. The families of the victims took a sigh of relief and satisfaction as the justice appeared to have been done to the culprits not knowing that these feelings of theirs will be shattered soon. The 26 suspects that were acquitted in Mashal Khan’s case received ‘heroic’ welcome by the religious parties as soon as they stepped outside the jail while the other 25 convicts with four years imprisonment term were released on bail later. The two of the three main culprits, Sabir Mayar, president of Pukhtoon Student Federation, and Muhammad Asif Khan, councilor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who had remained missing during the whole court proceedings of this case, suddenly emerged from their hideouts and handed themselves to the police on their own. The third missing suspect, Asad Katlang, was found to have already been awarded pre-arrest bail by the ATC, Abbottabad. Commenting on the miraculous appearance of these three absconded culprits after about 10 months, Mashal Khan’s father said that the arrest was deliberately delayed to save them from strict punishment during the main trial.Muhammad Asif Khan, councilor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who had remained missing during the whole court proceedings of this case, suddenly emerged from their hideouts and handed themselves to the police on their own. The third missing suspect, Asad Katlang, was found to have already been awarded pre-arrest bail by the ATC, Abbottabad. Commenting on the miraculous appearance of these three absconded culprits after about 10 months, Mashal Khan’s father said that the arrest was deliberately delayed to save them from strict punishment during the main trialThe convicts of Alimuddin’s lynching case in India also were treated the same as their counterparts in Mashal Khan’s lynching case in Pakistan. On the death anniversary of Alimuddin, eight of the 11 convicts for life imprisonment were granted bail by Jharkhand High Court. To rub salt into the wounds of the victim’s family, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, an IIT, Harvard Business School and McKinsey alumni and a son of former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha personally welcomed the lynching convicts to his residence and felicitated them with sweets and garlands. A couple of months later, another convict of the case, Chhotu Verma, who was seen beating Alimuddin with a stick repeatedly in a video, was granted bail by the court citing lack of evidence against him. Although, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on record said that he will not tolerate the killing of innocents in the name of mob lynching, neither his cabinet ministers nor the religious extremists ever paid any heed to such warnings and the practice of mob lynching and its support goes on to this day. A BJP leader, Gyan Dev Ahuja, called cow slaughtering a bigger crime than terrorism as it hurts sentiments of crores of Hindus. Another BJP lawmaker T. Raja Singh Lodh tendered his resignation to the party, alleging that the party was not providing any support for ‘gau raksha’ (cow protection). By referencing religious sentiments on cow slaughtering, these lawmakers tried to call such offenses blasphemous. The article 48 of the Indian Constitution, bans cow slaughtering but it is not applicable in all states of the country and no Indian press-report calls these incidents as acts of blasphemy either. This constitutional ban has been in place for a long time but at no time in the past had it created the kind of violence that India has begun observing since BJP’s ascent to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promised to completely outlaw cow slaughter all over India.What India has started observing now, started happening in Pakistan soon after the military dictator, General Zia Ul Haq, who had inducted additional blasphemy laws (295B and 295C) in 1982, triggering a sudden rise in blasphemy cases from 198,6 onward and the first extrajudicial killing of a ‘blasphemer’ in Pakistan took place on 6 January 1992 when a Christian teacher Naimat Ahmar, 43, was butchered by a young member of a militant religious group, Farooq Ahmad, in Faisalabad. In the same year, three more Christians were extra judicially killed in the province of Punjab while they were in police custody. As of January 2018, 78 persons were found to have been extra judicially killed on blasphemy charges in the country and 41 of them were Muslims. Most of the factors that allow these crimes to go unchecked are overt or covert support of the state machinery, ideological indoctrination, and political agenda of the rulers. Fortunately or unfortunately, these ingredients are abundantly available in Indian and Pakistani societies and what we have been witnessing is the natural outcome of the sentiments these conditions have created. Interestingly, majority of the victims of these crimes in both countries are those who have always been very vocal and sentimental on blasphemy issues – the Muslims. Those who support extrajudicial killings on religion issues justify it as an irrepressible reaction to any act that hurt people’s feelings for the religion they love and respect. As this trend is constantly spreading its wings in the regional countries, the followers of different religions are getting motivated with similar feelings for their faith now.. Nothing could be more reflective of this human behavior than a statement of Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh Lodh that said: “For cow protection…we will kill or we will die.”In Pakistan, this crime takes place because of the differences in religious beliefs while in India, it is a conflict of a religious practice of two different religions; Islam allows beef-eating, Hindu religion forbids it. How can these basic religious differences be made tolerable for their followers is a serious question in countries where people’s sentiments can be flared up any time on religious topics? As long as sentiments and not rational behaviors continues to dominate, killings in the name of religion will continue unabated and majority of them will be none other than the Muslims. What role are the religious lobbies in these countries going to play against this unfolding saga of human misery? Will they remain silent or act proactively to avert the course of savagery that people are constantly being driven to because of misleading political agenda? History will judge them the way they act and react to this crucial issue today. Freelance journalist and senior research fellow, Center for Research and Security Studies. He can be reached at: email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, December 1st 2018.