Blasphemy allegations: Suspect taken into custody following violent demo

Published: April 24, 2012

" I saw holy text on partially burned pages near the mosque on my way to lead the Fajr prayer on Monday morning," Muhammad Aslam.

FAISALABAD: 

Saddar police on Monday rescued from his accusers a man suspected of defiling pages of the Holy Quran at a mosque near Toba-Gojra Road on Sunday night.

Police said the man, identified as Imran, was mentally-challenged. They said he would be produced in a court on Tuesday (today).

Talking to The Express Tribune, Saddar Station House Officer Mian Muhammad Akram said the suspect had denied having burned any page of the Holy Quran. He quoted Imran as saying that he had burnt some worn out papers he collected from a mosque while cleaning the shelves on Sunday night. But, he added, he had no idea that the pages came out of the Holy Quran.  He said he had started cleaning the shelves on seeing a lot of dust.

An FIR was registered against him under Section 295 B of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Earlier, he was detained by dozens of people who had gathered on the Toba-Gojra Road following announcements from loudspeakers of several mosques in the locality. He was handed over to a police team on the assurance that appropriate action would be taken against him.

The arrest had followed a violent demonstration near Jani Wala railway station. The protesters blocking the road dispersed four hours later after baton charge and tear-gas shelling by the police. Muhammad Tariq, one of the protesters, said that use of force was unjustified. “There were a number of women and children were on the scene. They had to return to their homes to protect themselves,” he said.

Toba Tek Singh DPO Ahsan Younus said force was used as a last resort to disperse the protesters. He said the demonstration had prevented two Faisalabad-bound trains (Pakistan Express and Karakorum Express) from leaving and blocked Toba-Gojra Road for over four hours. He said the citizens had a right to organise peaceful demonstrations.

Muhammad Aslam, a prayer leader at the mosque where the burning had allegedly taken place, said he had seen holy text on partially burned pages near the mosque on his way to the mosque to lead the Fajr prayer on Monday morning.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.

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