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It looks good for the girl

By: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD: A duty magistrate sent Mohammad Khalid Jadoon, Imam of Mehra Jaffer mosque, to Adiala Jail on Sunday on 14-day judicial remand in the blasphemy case that has been rocking the city for two weeks.

Duty magistrate Nasar Minallah directed the Ramna police, which sought the remand, to produce the Imam before the trial court on Sept 16. Imam Jadoon was arrested on Saturday, and booked for desecrating Quran, after the muezzin of his mosque, Hafiz Mohammad Zubair, testified before a magistrate that he saw him put two pages of Holy Quran into one of the two plastic bags seized from the Christian girl to strengthen the charge of blasphemy against her.

The girl, who has been lying in Adiala Jail since being accused of burning Holy Quran pages on August 17, may now qualify for bail which she was refused earlier. Not only bail, she can apply for her acquittal under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code, jurist consultant to the Federal Shariat Court Dr Aslam Khaki said commenting on the muezzin’s statement under Section 164 of the same Code.

In his testimony, Hafiz Zubair said Malik Hammad, the complainant in the case, had brought two plastic bags, one containing partially burnt pages and the other just ashes. Imam Jadoon put pages of Quran in the first bag despite his objections to fabricating the evidence, he said.

Two other witnesses also tried to stop the Imam from altering the evidence, he said.

MNA Ayaz Amir, who investigated the case on his own, wrote in his newspaper column that the half-burnt pages in the bag were from Nurani Qaeda, a primer for children learning Arabic alphabets prior to starting Quran. Dr Khaki said that in the light of the muezzin’s statement, the evidence against the girl lost its credibility. In fact police can prosecute the Imam for blasphemy as well as for implicating a minor falsely in the blasphemy case.

Senior advocate and child rights activist Anis Jillani believes that after her acquittal the Christian girl can file damages suit against the Imam and the State as well.

“She has been kept in detention for more than two weeks in Adiala Jail on the basis of altered evidence and she can justifiably seek compensation against mental agony, torture and threats she suffered in confinement,” he told Dawn.

In his opinion, acquittal of Imam Jadoon in this case “seems not easy”.

Meanwhile, Munir Hussain Jaffery, the officer investigating the case filed against the girl under FIR 303, has said that during the investigation police found that only pages of Nurani Qaeda were burnt while the pages of Quran in the evidence bore no burn marks at all.

“I was puzzled that fire burnt other pages but the pages from Quran were untouched. Surah Ikhlas and some Quranic text could be read on the burnt out pages of Nurani Qaeda. I decided to inquire and went to the mosque where Hafiz Mohammad Zubair disclosed that Imam Jadoon had put some pages of Quran with the burnt pages,” the officer told Dawn.

“We shifted Zubair to the police station and recorded his statement and, in its light, arrested Imam Jadoon. Hafiz Zubair was enlisted as an approver and he recorded the same statement in the court,” he added.

Asked why the police not seek physical remand of the Imam, the officer said it was needed as police had already collected proof against him.