Islamabad, 2 September 2012. The blasphemy case involving an 11-year-old girl with Down Syndrome took a curious turn that could end her ordeal when the police on Saturday evening arrested a cleric for allegedly planting pages of the Koran among burnt papers found in her possession.
The cleric, Khalid Judoon Chishti, was produced before a magistrate on Sunday and sent to 14 days judicial remand.
He was arrested after a witness in the case, Hafiz Zubair (a muezzin of the mosque where Maulvi Chishti leads the prayers) told a magistrate that he saw the prayer leader putting pages of the Koran in the polythene bag containing burnt papers that the accused, Rimsha Masih, was carrying.
After Mr. Zubair made the statement before the magistrate, the police obtained a warrant for the Maulvi’s arrest and went to the locality with a huge contingent to deal with any protests that may erupt while imprisoning him. He has now been booked under the blasphemy law, which provides for death sentence as he had desecrated the Koran by putting pages from it in a bag that contained ashes.
To evict Christians
According to Mr. Zubair, the complainant — who had allegedly seen Ms. Masih burning the pages — had brought the packet to the mosque to show it to the Maulvi.
The Maulvi, as per Mr. Zubair’s statement, added some pages of the Koran to the packet to strengthen the case against the girl and facilitate the eviction of Christians from the slum cluster on the outskirts of the federal capital.
Though there had been conflicting reports on the circumstances in which Ms. Masih was found with the burnt pages of the Koran, she was arrested under the blasphemy law over a fortnight ago and sent to the Adiala Jail amid protests from civil society.
In fact, till date, versions differ on the contents of the pages found in her possession with some claiming they were from a primer used to teach children the scriptures.
In view of the latest development in the case, civil society activists have stepped up their demand for the amendment of the blasphemy laws to avoid their misuse as is apparent in this instance. They recalled that this was exactly what assassinated Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer had been demanding.