Hindu man arrested on blasphemy charges in Pakistan

Hindu man arrested on blasphemy charges in Pakistan

A Hindu man in Pakistan’s Punjab province has been arrested for allegedly committing blasphemy by making ‘disrespectful’ comments about Muslim holy places and shifted to jail to protect him from an enraged mob, police said on Monday.

The police took the suspect – identified as Akbar Ram of West of Rahim Yar Khan district, some 400 kms from provincial capital Lahore – into custody on the complaint filed by Faisal Munir, a person from his area, who produced two witnesses before the police to make a case against him.

Inspector Safdar Hussain of Kotsamaba Police Station Rahim Yar Khan told PTI on Monday that police arrested suspect Akbar Ram under blasphemy charges on August 11 and immediately shifted him to jail on judicial remand fearing a law-and-order situation in the village.

“Had we kept the blasphemy suspect in the police station it might have triggered a law-and-order situation in the area as he was accused of hurting the sentiments of Muslims,” Hussain said.

Akbar Ram has been booked both under blasphemy law (295-A of Pakistan Penal Code) and the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

The official added that the timely arrival of police saved the life of Akbar Ram.

“Police reached the village after learning that a Hindu man had committed blasphemy and the people were gathering near his house. Police controlled the situation and took Akbar Ram into custody as the mob was demanding that he should be handed over to them,” he said.

According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with PTI, complainant Faisal Munir, a motor mechanic by profession, said that he was present at his workshop along with Tahiq Majid and Muhammad Tariq when Akbar Ram came there and started making comments disrespectful to Muslim holy places.

The complainant further alleged that Akbar Ram before committing blasphemy in front of many people on August 11 also used to make objectionable comments about Islam before him.

The family members of Akbar Ram have reportedly fled the village after blasphemy charges were hurled at him to save their lives.

Pakistan is among the countries where blasphemy is punishable by death. Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the country, where even unproven allegations can stir mobs and violence.

In 2021, a Sri Lankan national who was working as a factory manager in Punjab province was killed by an angry mob over allegations of blasphemy.

Minorities including Christians and Hindus in Pakistan have frequently been subjected to blasphemy allegations and some were tried and even sentenced under the tough blasphemy law.

According to the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are “controversial” with public opinion in two distinct camps.

One camp believes the laws to be absolutely essential and necessary for the protection of Muslims’ sentiments. The other view is that the laws are draconic, leveraged by vested interests to primarily target minorities, and used to settle personal vendettas and disputes.

Published On:

Aug 14, 2023

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