February 16th, 2021 

By Staff Reporter 


LAHORE

Model Town police have registered a case under sections 295-A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 295-B (defiling the Holy Qur’an), and 295-C (insulting the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against two Christian youths for alleged blasphemy.

The FIR was lodged on the complaint of one Haroon Ahmed, a student.

Persons convicted under Section 295-A may serve 10 years in imprisonment, while Section 295-B carries a life sentence. Offenses under Section 295-C are punishable by death.

According to the FIR, the accused had allegedly made blasphemous remarks during a discussion on religion with the plaintiff and hurt his religious sentiments.

On the other hand, Christian groups have stated that such an incident never took place and that the allegations levied against the accused are baseless and false.

Rather, the accused were reciting verses from the Bible when they were approached by the complainant who demanded they stop. When the Christian youths refused,  they were registered under false charges of blasphemy.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police (SP) Investigation Model Town Asim Iftikhar is heading the investigation due to the sensitivity of the case and assured that the incident will be dealt with impartially.

He further stated that the law and order situation is under control and the police were fully prepared to deal with any untoward situation. No arrests have been made as of yet.

Colonial-era legislation

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and their prescribed punishments are extremely severe, and people accused of blasphemy are deprived of the right to a counsel of their choice as most lawyers refuse to take up such sensitive cases.

According to the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom, about 80 individuals are serving a life sentence or are on death row for allegedly committing blasphemy in Pakistan.

Although blasphemy laws are colonial-era legislation, they were amended during the regime of former dictator General Zia-ul-Haq which increased the severity of prescribed punishments. Since then, about 2,000 people (mostly Muslims) have been charged with blasphemy under the amended law.

Most of those accused of blasphemy ironically tend to be Muslims and languish in jail for decades.

Butt sometimes in the past accusations of both Muslims and religious minorities have ended in mob violence – lynching, as in the case of Mashal Khan, or their homes set on fire, as in the case of a 2013 incident in Lahore’s Joseph Colony, in which an incensed mob had burned down hundreds of houses after a resident Christian youth was accused of committing blasphemy. The accused had eventually been acquitted of all charges by the court seven years later.

 

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