As many as 25 men arrested for assaulting a woman they accused of apostasy, shaving her head and parading her through Bhegewala village, will be presented before an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala on Friday (today).
The suspects including – Ayub Kashmiri, Naveed Ahmed, Nawab Din, Akram and Amanat Ali – were arrest by Bhegewala police and an FIR was registered against them under Section 354 of the Pakistan Penal Code on Wednesday after the incident was reported. Section 7 of the ATA (punishment for acts of terrorism) was added to the FIR on Thursday on a directive by judicial magistrate Qaiser Shahzad.
Sana Bibi*, 45, is now living with a daughter at her house in a Gujranwala village.
Talking to The Express Tribune, she rejected the apostasy charge.
“I had settled in the village after converting to Islam about six months ago. I’m still a Muslim though I’m disappointed in the way I have been humiliated by some of my fellow Muslims,” she said.
Sana* also rejected the allegation that she was still living with or seeing her Christian husband.
She said whenever she had been absent from the village she was visiting one of her daughters who were married and living with their husbands in Gujranwala.
“I have not met my husband since moving to Bhegewala,” she said.
Sana* had converted to Islam six months ago and moved to the village along with her two young sons. She had also changed her name from Allice* to Sana*.
She accused Ayub Kashmiri of provoking the villagers against her because she had turned down his proposal for marriage. She said Kashmiri, who was unmarried, had approached her couple of times. “I had clarified that I did not want to re-marry. I have two young sons to look after,” she said.
Recounting the incident, she said Kashmiri and his accomplices had broken into her house where Naveed Ahmed shaved her head. Later, she said, she was made to put on a garland of shoes and paraded through the village mounted on a donkey. She said the villagers then expelled her from the village.
Talking to The Tribune, some of the villagers defended the suspects. They alleged that Sana* was seeing her Christian husband and argued that this amounted to apostasy.
“If someone leaves a religion and converts to Islam, they have to abandon their relatives from the previous religion as well,” they said.
SHO Syed Munawar Shirazi said he had himself registered the FIR when he found out about the incident.
*Name of the victim has been changed to protect her identity
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.