Mehram Wahocho may have shot himself in the foot by appealing his one-month sentence in a blasphemy case, as he has now been sentenced to three years in jail and a Rs5,000 fine.
The district and sessions judge in Kamber Shahdadkot handed down the sentence on October 13. The accused man, who is a retired schoolteacher, was charged with passing insulting remarks against the family of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and Sahaba-e-Rasool (peace be upon them). He has now been transferred to Central Jail, Larkana.
The case dates to two years ago. Ameer Ali Wahocho, a resident of Warah, filed a case with the police against Mehram Wahocho. In his statement to the police, Ameer Ali accused Mehram Wahocho of making the insulting remarks.
The police then arrested Wahocho and charge sheeted him in the court of the judicial magistrate in Warah. Mehram was sentenced to one-month in jail.
He then filed an appeal in the court of the district and sessions judge of Kamber Shahdadkot. His lawyer also appealed for bail, which was approved.
However, while Wahocho was appealing his sentence, Ameer Ali also filed a review petition against the judgment through his lawyer Mansoor Tunio. He asked the court to increase Wahocho’s punishment on the grounds that the lower court’s judgment paled in comparison to the offense.
Lawyer Mansoor Tunio told The Express Tribune that the case dragged on in court for over a year and a half, because Wahocho’s lawyer would be absent on the scheduled hearing dates, a tactic commonly employed by lawyers to prolong a case.
On October 13, the district and sessions judge of Kamber Shahdadkot finally announced the verdict that has now put Wahocho in jail for three years instead of his earlier one-month sentence.
Sindh has a comparatively low rate of blasphemy cases as compared to Punjab, where the majority of cases in Pakistan are recorded. In the past year alone, there have been several notable cases in Karachi, including that of a 17-year-old student accused of writing sacrilegious remarks in an exam. According to the Sindh police website, 33 cases of blasphemy were reported in the province from January to August 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2011.