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Tackling misuse of blasphemy law

Tackling misuse of blasphemy law

KHALID Jadoon Chishti, a local cleric, who had triggered a globaloutcry by accusing a 14-year-old Christian girl, Rimsha, afflicted with Down syndrome of blasphemy was set free Saturday by a district and session judge for want of evidence (Aug 18).

The girl and her family, residents of a slum in Islamabad, suffered five months of life threats and , though acquitted by the Islamabad High Court, were forced to leave the country and seek asylum in Canada.

The country’s reputation was damaged before the world community for an accusation that was proved wrong by evidence.

The child girl’s acquittal of the charge of blasphemy levelled by the cleric was possible because witnesses ,that included the muezzin of the mosque where Jadoon was Imam, had deposed that Jadoon had fabricated the blasphemy case against Rimsha and had altered evidence by inserting pages of the Holy Quran in a prayer book which had allegedly been burnt by the accused girl child in order to strengthen accusation against her.

Now after passage of one year the accused Imam has been acquitted because the prosecution witnesses have retracted from their original evidence against the accused.

What a precedent of dispensation of law in such a serious case that tremendously damaged the life of the mentally deranged girl and the whole Christian community in Islamabad and the country’s reputation! If witnesses were to retract their statements so easily under ‘out-of-court coercion or bribe, no accused will ever be convicted in this country.

What about Sharia? Is not anyone accusing an innocent person, especially women, liable to whipping?

The case has proved that anyone who accuses innocent people for the serious charge of blasphemy can get away so easily.

G.B. SHAH BOKHARI
Peshawar

Double standards

THIS is with reference to the news item stating that the cleric who accused Rimsha Masih of blasphemy has been allowed to go scot-free due to lack of evidence.

It clearly shows the anomalies in section 295-C, which specifies death penalty for the accused but does not provide any substantial punishment for those who falsely accuse a person of blasphemy.

The local cleric should have been prosecuted for two crimes separately: first, his false accusation of Rimsha; the second and more important, his involvement in the desecration of the Holy Quran and for that he should have been tried under section 295-C.

While the minorities accused of desecration continue to rot in jails, their cases are heard in lower courts. This cleric was on bail and enjoying a normal life.

The courts need to set a precedent and punish those who are guilty of accusing others falsely, especially in blasphemy cases, because that’s the only way the abuse of this sensitive law would subside.

OMER BUTT
Lahore

DAWN

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