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Blasphemy case takes a new turn

By: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD: The blasphemy case took a new turn on Saturday, when a witness in the case disclosed before the executive magistrate that the Imam of a local mosque of Mehra Jaffer included two pages of the Holy Quran in the burnt pages in order to exacerbate the situation.

Hafiz Mohammad Zubair, a prayer caller at the same mosque, in his statement recorded before the magistrate said he was sitting in Aitekaf (meditation) during the month of Ramazan in the mosque — situated in front of the minor’s house, who was later charged for blasphemy.

He alleged that when the complainant Malik Hammad brought the burnt pages of the Holy Quran before the Imam, Khalid Jadoon (cleric of the mosque), he included two more pages of the holy verses in the evidence to strengthen the case against the Christian girl.

According to Hafiz Zubair, Hammad brought the evidence in two polythene bags and when the cleric included the pages of the Holy Quran in the evidence, he tried to stop him and insisted that the original evidence should be produced against the girl before the police.

But the cleric ignored my advice and said that it would make the case more strong and that would lead to the eviction of the girl’s family from the area, he added. He claimed that at least two other people also tried to stop the cleric from altering the evidence and including the pages of the Holy Quran among the burnt pages.

Rao Abdul Rahim, counsel for the accuser Malik Hammad, told Dawn that the police were terrorising the witnesses, forcing them to record false statements before the magistrate.

If the cleric had included the pages of the Holy Quran in the evidence to strengthen the blasphemy case, it was itself an act of blasphemy and the complainant (Malik Hammad) would definitely have included his name in the FIR, he said.

The police are fabricating the story to teach the cleric a lesson for raising voice against the blasphemy accused, he added. The counsel warned that if the police continued its campaign against the complainant, it would set a wrong precedence as in the future, people would take the law into their hands.

Meanwhile, the matter of bail of the Christian girl was again put off after the accuser’s counsel questioned the authenticity of defence lawyers papers. Additional Sessions Judge Mohammad Azam Khan on Saturday was about to take up the bail application and the matter regarding the age of the alleged blasphemer under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) or Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000 but sudden objection by accuser’s counsel diverted his attention towards the papers of defence counsels.

The court directed the special public prosecutor Raja Amir and the investigation officer to verify the papers and submit the report on September 3, the date when it would again take up the girl’s bail plea.

Raja Amir informed the court that the medical board comprising seven doctors had explained their stance on the ortho-fixation report. Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, the girl’s counsel, pointed out that doctors again confirmed that the girl was a minor and was about 14-year-old and mentally unstable.