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Abuse of blasphemy laws: ‘Police register blasphemy cases under pressure’
By Ali Waqar
LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) additional inspector general Malik Muhammad Iqbal said on Sunday in many cases the people with religious sentiments pressure police to lodge the blasphemy cases.
He said the religious sentiments were rampant in society and sometimes it was quite difficult to handle the situation sometimes. He cited the example of Imam-e-Kaaba’s visit. He said no one was invited to receive him, but thousands of people had thronged to receive him and offer prayers behind him.
The CCPO said despite all the pressure the courts had been providing relief to the blasphemy-convicted people. He said no doubt people have been taking advantage of the blasphemy law, but this couldn’t be stopped without controlling religious sentiments.
On the other side, the human rights organisations across the country have repeatedly been demanding the annulment of the law.
On April 1 in Toba Tek Singh six Christians were charged with blasphemy under Sections 295 A, C, 452, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code without the inquiry by an SP. Younis Masih case was also lodged without following the due procedure. According to the statement of Younis Masih’s counsel, a sub inspector completed the investigation within a day.
From May 9 to June 9 three incidents have been reported in the press in which public pressure had been allegedly used to misuse blasphemy laws mainly to grab the property of the accused persons. The cases were lodged under public pressure claiming that the alleged blasphemers have hurted their sentiments. Younis Masih had been sentenced to death on May 30 on charge of blasphemy. Factory Area police had registered a blasphemy case under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against Masih on September 10, 2005, after he had allegedly made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at a Qawali function on September 9, 2005.
The lawyer of the accused said that Christians had arranged a spiritual gathering at Chungi Ammar Sidhu in September 9, 2005, at which a neighbour, Abdul Aziz, also a complainant in the case, had objected and demanded that they perform Islamic rituals instead of Christian rites. The argument turned hot during which, the complainant alleged that the accused had used the derogatory remarks.
On May 9, 79-year-old Walter Fazal Khan was bathing in the morning when Riaz, who lived at the same house, knocked at his door and told him that something was burning in the house. Later, they found a burnt book in the drawing room, which Riaz found to be a copy of the Holy Quran. Riaz ran out immediately, called local clerics and tried to beat Walter. Police were called and a case was lodged against Walter under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code. Walter was bailed out of jail on May 29.
In a latest incident that happened on June 8 the Shahdara Town police registered a blasphemy case against a mentally- handicapped person Nadir Ali for allegedly burning his house, which had a few copies of the Holy Quran on June 9. The case was registered against Nadir under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Several neighbours alleged the complainant Shahid wanted to grab Nadir’s property. The police officer concerned told Daily Times the police had registered an FIR against Nadir under the public pressure. He admitted that there were reports that Shahid had wanted to grab Nadir’s property.