Blasphemy Law: Children Detained, Mob Attacks Ahmedis
Amidst all the religious turmoil in country, arises yet another blasphemy case. However, this is the first time in the history of the infamous blasphemy law in Pakistan that Ahmedi children have been made a victim to it. And it is not just a simple matter that a case was registered against these children and they were detained by police, but a mob of angry, zealous believers, reportedly led by the banned organization Jamaatud Dawa, has tried to burn down the houses of Ahmedis in Layyah. So much for religious tolerance...
Here is what Daily Times has to say on the matter:
Mob tries to burn houses of Ahmadis in Layyah
* HRCP alarmed over four children’s detention on blasphemy charges
* FIR says local MNA’s uncle ‘probed’ the incident at his outhouse
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: A mob – led reportedly by members of banned religious organisations – tried to set ablaze houses of Ahmadis in Layyah on Thursday, a day after four children belonging to the minority community were detained on charges of blasphemy, police and residents told Daily Times.
Twenty policemen had been deployed to the village, a police official said.
Police had registered a case (number 46/9) in the Kot Sultan police station against Tahir Imran (16), Tahir Mahmood (14), Naseer Ahmad (14), Muhammad Irfan (14), and Mubashar Ahmad (45) under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The Ahmadiyya community has denied the charge, the first ever against children since the Section 295-C was introduced in 1986.
Asma Jahangir, the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that it was heinous to use the law against children. The HRCP was finding facts about the incident, she said, and would soon send a team to Layyah.
Religious scholar Javed Ghamidi said the children were safer in police custody.
The children belong to Chak 172/TDA, a village about 25 kilometres from Kot Sultan. Last week, the locals had stopped the Ahmadi children from praying in the central Gulzar-e-Madina mosque, Kot Sultan Station House Officer (SHO) Rauf Khalid told Daily Times.
But they continued to use the latrines, where they have been accused of writing blasphemous material, according to the first information report (FIR).
Noor Elahi Kulachi – a retired schoolteacher, and, as the SHO confirmed, a member of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba – complained to Iqbal Hussain Shah, the uncle of the local National Assembly member Saqlain Shah. According to the FIR, Iqbal Hussain called the SHO and the people who had seen the writings to his outhouse, where they “probed the incident” to find the Ahmadi children guilty.
But the local leader of the Ahmadiyya community alleged that Kulachi – who was also a member of Jamaatud Dawa – had pressured Iqbal Hussain to direct the police to register the case, and the latter complied because of the Jamaatud Dawa votebank in the constituency.
Saqlain Shah, an MNA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, denied his uncle had pressured police. But he said representatives of the Ahmadiyya community should have visited his uncle’s residence for the matter to be resolved in line with local traditions, instead of denying charges.
He also said that Ahmadis had first lodged cases against local Muslims (for violating the Loudspeakers Act and under the Maintenance of Public Order) after being disallowed to hold a religious meeting, and should now “face the truth”. He said he would visit the village on Saturday, and that his uncle was trying to pacify the villagers.
The SHO said he had registered the case after consulting the district police officer and a deputy inspector general of police. The inspector general of police had also been informed, he added.