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A sad story turned into a farce

ISLAMABAD: The blasphemy accused girl’s sad story took the colours of a farce when a self-styled Christian leader organised his mock funeral on Friday after residents of G-9/4 frustrated his attempts to resettle the uprooted families of his community there – a mission which police suspect deeply.

Akram Waqar Gill, who styles himself as President JUI Minorities Wing Punjab, arrived lying in a coffin at the National Press Club from his campsite in G-9/4, on the shoulders of some 50 followers and intent on being buried alive – unless the CDA handed him the woodland it had promised.

CDA did send heavy machinery to clear the Promised Land Friday morning but no sooner they started working the people of the area arrived to challenge the work. Eventually, the CDA hierarchy thought it wiser to recall the machinery and its staff.

Meanwhile, as police and Islamabad administration officials at the “funeral site” raked their minds how to stop Mr Gill from being put in the grave his followers were digging opposite the press club, a magistrate extended the judicial remand of the Christian girl for another two weeks.

She has been in Adiala Jail since Aug 17, the day after citizen Malik Hammad registered FIR that she had committed blasphemy. Duty magistrate Mohammad Inamullah castigated police for causing a delay in starting the trial of the girl by not submitting the challan so far.

Accordingly, he directed the police to produce her in the trial court, with complete challan, after the extended remand ends on September 14.

The accused, declared a juvenile and mentally weak by a medical board, was brought in an armoured carrier to the court which wore a deserted look because of the extraordinary security measures taken for her appearance.

Rao Abdul Rahim, counsel for the accuser Malik Hammad, informed the court that he had raised certain objections on the medical report of the girl and district and sessions judge has sought clarification from the district magistrate in this regard.

None of the girl’s four lawyers was present in the court, however.

“There was no need for the defence lawyers to appear before the court at this stage,” her lead counsel, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, told Dawn.

SSP Nayamatullah Kundi said submission of challan before the court was the responsibility of his department but the police station concerned had not submitted the investigation report and draft of the challan so far.

Mercifully, Mr Gill escaped being buried alive as his followers melted away from the burial site with the setting sun. Mr Gill has been campaigning for the resettlement of some 100 Christian families who fled Mehria Jaffar locality after the blasphemy case exploded.

But police suspect it to be designed to grab land in the name of religious persecution. They point out that the number of uprooted families at his campsite in a G-9 park has swelled to 800 – all of them from outside Islamabad.

Local people resisting their settlement in G-9/4 claim that the four-acre patch of woodland CDA promised them was worth Rs5 billion and was meant to replace a park that the construction of Ninth Avenue devoured.