Court grants bail to Rimsha

By AFP
Published: September 7, 2012

Bail application has been accepted against two sureties of Rs500,000 each. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: An additional sessions judge granted bail to a Christian girl accused of blasphemy, in a case that has sparked an international outcry.

Judge Muhammad Azam Khan ordered the release of Rimsha Masih, who was arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb on August 16 accused of burning papers containing verses from the Quran.

“I accept her bail application,” Khan announced to a packed courtroom.

“The bail application has been accepted against two sureties of Rs500,000 each.”

Campaigners stepped up calls for her release after police on Saturday arrested a cleric for allegedly tampering with the evidence.

His deputy and two assistants said Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti tried to bolster the case against the girl by planting pages from the Koran among the burnt papers that were brought to him.

Rimsha was arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb on August 16 and accused of burning papers containing verses from the Holy Quran, in breach of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

On Friday morning judge Muhammad Azam Khan listened to lawyers from both sides and said he would announce his decision on the bail application later.

“The judge listened to both sides and he will give his decision at 3:00pm after Friday prayers,” Rimsha’s lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, told reporters.

Campaigners stepped up calls for her release after police on Saturday arrested a cleric for allegedly tampering with the evidence.

His deputy and two assistants said Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti tried to bolster the case against the girl by planting pages from the Koran among the burnt papers that were brought to him.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, insulting Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) is punishable by death and burning a sacred text by life imprisonment.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive subject in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the 180 million population are Muslims, and allegations of insulting Islam or Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) often prompt a furious public reaction.

Rights groups have called on Pakistan to reform its blasphemy legislation, which they say is often abused to settle personal vendettas.

In 2011, leading politician Salman Taseer and a Christian cabinet minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated after calling for the law to be reformed.

Taseer’s convicted killer is being held in the same jail as Rimsha.

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Reader Comments (50)

  • Riaz
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:50PM

    Let’s see what is the new issue librals raise to drag Pakistan.

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  • Raw is War?
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:56PM

    pray tell me where such a poor girl can get 5 Lakh rupees? Even I cannot afford it. What a joke of a nation. Pakistan government knows that all the poor Christians will pool in money anyways to release her- so take advantage of it. Cheap tactics.

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  • Khan of Cape Town
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:05PM

    good new. next step is, lets save her from the insane mafia waiting for her.

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  • Faraz
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:09PM

    @Riaz:
    what new issue? a minor girl wrongly dragged to prison and this is not an issue?? my sincere advice to you, learn to be a human first then be a Muslim or whoever you want to be!! if this is not an issue to you then you probably are not human, let alone follower of some religion!

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  • Faraz
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:10PM

    @Riaz:
    People like you drag Pakistan into such petty issues with your narrow-minded, rigid thinking, not the other way round.

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  • gp65
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:14PM

    The surety for the minister involved in Hajj scam was 1 lakh, surety for poor RImsha is 5 lakhs. IT is unclear why she needs bail now instead of outright acquittal based on tainted evidence/

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  • Naeem Malik(Dublin)
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:17PM

    Rs500, 000 for bail :-(

    In Land of Pak, it seems that 95 % population is extremist and 2% is minority and nobody listens to 3% sane voices (because they are CIA/Mossad/Raw agents working for western infidels )Recommend

  • nitish
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:19PM

    Now deport this girl to a safe country for her and her community’s goodness………

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  • Uza Syed
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:19PM

    @Riaz: Are you feeling alright? What does it have to do with ‘Liberals’ or your kind?

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  • Sunny
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:29PM

    Still Bail for 10,00,000 Extrotion Money…. Long Live Judiciary, Long Live Pakistan.

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  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:31PM

    She should be freed unconditionally. Whats the great idea of bail.? Our justice system has gone haywire.

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  • CrapCutter
    Sep 7, 2012 - 1:49PM

    Where are all the SC haters now who had been criticizing the CJ for not taking suo-moto or granting bail to Rimsha?

    Those people are all PPP-symphatizers and they probably forgot that their Government sat back and has done nothing about the whole case :)

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Much the best,excellent and august news of today……

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  • Parvez
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:03PM

    Total bail amount is Rs. 1 million. compare this with the bail set for those who have looted billions.

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  • AH
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:08PM

    500,000? Bloody ridiculous !! So what is the fate of the cleric ? Should not he charged for blasphemy?

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  • A2Z
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:20PM

    It’s not the matter of 5 lakh or 1 lakh rupees bu it is about the justice system. This system has failed miserably. The whole system needs to be revamped otherwise we will face such issues every other day.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:24PM

    The court knows very well as what will be the outcome of the case at the end of the day then why to burden the poor girl and her family members.

    Instead, the court should have directed the girl not to leave the court without its permission.

    Is the court after taking sureity of Rs,5,00,000 also takes the responsibility of her life that she should not be physically harmed by any person after her release from the jail?

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  • Tony Singh
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:28PM

    Its not 500,000 its two surities of 500,000 each! Call that justice in any language, any country? A minor girl kept in jail framed by greedy Mullah and now the court wants a surity of 10,00,000 Strange!

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  • Pakistani
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:42PM

    If I am not wrong, this is sureties of Rs. 500,000, means balance certificate submitted by some one.Recommend

  • feroze
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:44PM

    Why was she released on BAIL and not acquitted out right? There are 3 witness testimonies confirming that the Mullah of the mosque set her up!! If this is the state of so called Independent Judiciary I want the clock to be turned back to 2007 when Mush was in power. At least there was a semblance of governance!! Pathetic state we are in and its embarassing to call one self a Pakistani when we do things like this.

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  • Sep 7, 2012 - 2:47PM

    @gp65:
    Welcome to the world, rich and poor have different punishments here.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:01PM

    I would like to point out few things:

    1- The amount of Rs. 1 million as bail money is enormous given the financial status of the hapless family of the accused. It simply nullifies the idea of justice as it should be equally available to all not just the rich.

    2- The burned pages alone do not and cannot provide solid evidence as the text is already gone with burning, a reason the cleric tampered with the evidence and added unburned pages of the holy book. Had he had not done this, there was a very weak case against Rimsha to begin with.

    3- As I remember, a long time ago when I was a kid, people used to prefer burning the torn-out, ripped, or shredded pages of the holy books to avoid desecration, but now things have changed drastically.

    4- In these modern age when every thing is just digitally created out of 0s and 1s, all the holly scriptures are available on CDs and DVDs. I am not sure if the Blasphemy laws also apply on the burning of digital media as well, or can be triggered by even issuing a simple ‘Format’ command.

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  • rashid khan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:02PM

    Where is the CJP? Shouldn’t he have something to say about the bail set for the poor girl from a resourceless family?
    What was bail for ex PM’s son or Makhdoom Shahabudin or Kazmi?

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  • Farrukh khan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:18PM

    One million rupee bail for a fake case Is this justice. Case should have been dropped. The judiciary is afraid of mullahs

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  • zeeshan sheikh
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:25PM

    liberals are lame , always crying

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  • faizan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Rs. 500,000/- is not required to be paid/deposited in cash to the Court rather bail bond to the tune of Rs. 500,000/- would be submitted to Court along with documentary evidence that guarantor is having worth of atleast that amount.

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  • Mansoor
    Sep 7, 2012 - 4:25PM

    Am I reading correctly? A small poor, innocent, garbage-collector girl – who has now been confirmed to be charged on fake premises – is being released on bale and, on the top of it, on the payment of 500,000 rupees (read 500,000). Is this called justice? Her medical examination may have been over. But isn’t it the judge’s term now for him to be sent for medical checkup for sanity?

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  • John B
    Sep 7, 2012 - 4:45PM

    Wait, there is more to come. The cleric will go out free as witnesses will disappear.

    What happened to the blasphemy law against the cleric?

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  • Farhan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 4:56PM

    She is free now, this is much better than the worst that we saw in other blasphemy cases. Good news.

    Probably, this is the first blasphemy case in which our hyper-active electronic media reported most of the things objectively without taking sides of nay party.

    I think we must appretiate this, not all is going wrong in Pakistan.

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  • vasan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:02PM

    The decision on bail was given after the prayer hours on Friday, so that mullahs dont create mayhem thru the speakers.

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  • amit
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:22PM

    My dear Pakistani friends, congratulations, you guys are officially now in stone age. Go build yourselves some decent caves to live in. Shame Shame Shame

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  • abs
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:38PM

    That Molvi should now be charged and punished under the same law and hung in front of masses so that no one ever does this to a child / innocent in future.Recommend

  • Imran Con
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:42PM

    @Raw is War?:
    I don’t disagree with what you said at all. That amount required for bail for her is ridiculous but… If it’s similar to other courts, technically she probably won’t be having to raise the funds and it’ll get paid. Bail-bondsmen are often times used. They pay the amount for a smaller fee since as long as the person who was bailed out doesn’t take off, they get the bail money back plus the fee.
    Though with all the publicity and attention the case is receiving around the world, chances are that the rights organizations and other groups rightfully condemning Pakistan will even donate it.

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  • Crooked Justice
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:45PM

    Why charges against her were not dropped while this is evident that she was framed by a insane Mullah! Recommend

  • Crooked Justice
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:52PM

    Burning a piece of paper should not worth Rs. 500,000 where poor hardly earns Rs 100-150 a day! Shame on us!

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  • Farhan
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:21PM

    I want to punish the judge around who presided over such an absurd case and then released the kid on bail. Makes me want to Puke on our system. !:(/ this -(:$ ! Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:22PM

    Rs. 1 million bail amount for Rimsha and Rs. 100,0000 bail amount fo Hanif Abbasi held in serious narcotics case. Bail amount for this minor girl with mental disabilities is 10 times that of a high ranking politician involved in serious narcotics case.

    The court should have freed her not just bailed her.

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  • chacha
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:27PM

    “Blasphemy in Pakistan is very sensitive”. Today Hina Rabbani Khar asked India not to be emotional about Mumbai 26/11 – guess accordingly to Pakistan the right to be emotional and irrational and downright threating is only with Pak-Af

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  • Sep 7, 2012 - 6:27PM

    Ulema of Islamabad Council should provide the money for bail and set an example on how islam is the last refuge of the poor and helpless…………….

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  • BRUISED INDIAN
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:33PM

    Iss Hamaam mein sab nange hain!
    A small mentally challenged girl is being used a pawn to quench the thirst of some overtly zealous religious fanatics, justice is elusive and to add more insult to injury is making a mockery of impoverished people with no voices. Shabash.

    The biggest blashpemy is committed by those who equate GOD to humans and reduce GOD to such a level that they think HE can be insulted by humans!

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  • kaalchakra
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:36PM

    This is too grave a matter to be trifled with. That the bail was accepted at all is indication of how justice system has bent over backwards to give the alleged young blasphemer her last chance.

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  • Sep 7, 2012 - 6:37PM

    NFP of Dawn would call this Black Comedy.

    Where are the people who defended the Judiciary when Hafiz Saeed was released on account of no evidence?

    The fact is Judiciary plays to the gallery. Smart play by the Judge. He wanted to keep his head as well as appeal to the liberals. I am not so sure it worked.

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  • wonderer
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:40PM

    The Judge is a coward. He knows he will be targeted if he let the girl go, so he made sure she will never be free by fixing a huge sureties amount. Shame on him.

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  • sensible
    Sep 7, 2012 - 7:08PM

    we have literally made the mess of blasphemy law. There should be proper evidence and independent inquiry before arresting accuse.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 7, 2012 - 7:25PM

    Persecution of minorities is a highly condemnable act and Pakistan being criticized on this account is justified. However, I am astounded by the onslaught of Indian trolls whose own national track record is full of the worst kinds of human rights violations and is the worst in the whole world. While we all know the large scale massacres of Muslims and Sikhs by the Hindu majority of India, a lesser known fact is the persecution of their Christian minority. This include targeted killings of ordinary Christians as well as missionaries, raping of nuns, arson of churches and homes, and forced conversions to Hinduism.

    Read this report (by the strategic partner of India) “United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF Annual Report 2012 – The Commission’s Watch List: India, 20 March 2012, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4f71a66c2.html

    Also read this Times of India report “On religious discrimination, India next only to Iraq”

    So, Indians, go get your own house in order first before you lecture us.Recommend

  • pip
    Sep 7, 2012 - 7:56PM

    @Naeem Malik(Dublin):
    i dont see the 95% extremism that you write about. i see that the pak comments are unanimously supporting the girl, human rights, and religious freedom. i think you must get your impression of rampant extremism in pak [and probably also the whole muslim world] from western media. that is the impression that western media wants to give in order to keep their populations supporting western war efforts. if you want to read really crazy, extremist comments, go to american news forums and media.

    [i really doubt that your name is naeem malik. i think you are pretending to be speaking as a muslim in a dishonest effort to give your opinion weight with westerners. if this is true and you have any moral integrity or conscience, you will give that lie up. but i doubt you have even the slightest integrity and will continue to lie to 'support' your baseless, bigoted opinions that are not supported by what you can plainly see in pak news or comments.]

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  • 1984
    Sep 7, 2012 - 8:00PM

    Sorry for going a bit off-topic

    But in the article ,its listed as 500,000 not as 5.00,000
    Also in another article,I saw that the editors have used 10 million instead of 1 crore.

    Are pakistanis deliberately not using our units of measurement like lakhs,crores just because they dont have an islamic origin to it and Indians are using it??

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  • kaalchakra
    Sep 7, 2012 - 8:23PM

    Bruised Indian

    This is not a matter of God being insulted, alone. It is about good people standing up for God in order to show their resolve not to give evil any chance of entering their lives and societies.

    Recommend

  • suraj
    Sep 7, 2012 - 8:42PM

    @Riaz:
    If you feel pointing out of flaws in the system is Liberalism… Be it..
    I really wonder why people like you feel so offensive of this incident.. That was committed by a narrow-minded, uneducated Mullah who doesn’t know what the humanity is and people like him are purely responsible for tarnishing the image of the country.. Everybody should work to set their minds right and educate them.. After all all the people are of same origin, just defers in choosing their faith..that wouldn’t be a reason to victimize people…

    Recommend

  • agnostic
    Sep 7, 2012 - 9:29PM

    @Lala Gee:

    I think you just read the title of the report and jumped to conclusions making all assumptions about the report. Please go thru the report completely without bias. The USCIRF report even says it is unfair to keep the India under watch list considering the tremendous progress it has achieved in human rights and the cases it points to are all pertaining to 1984 (Sikh riots), 2002 (Gujarath post Godhra) and 2008 (Orissa Hindu-Christian clashes) and nothing after that. I have given below the concluding para from the report.

    India has the legal and democratic traditions to deal with religious intolerance and should be strongly encouraged to continue to do so. Its central government has demonstrated both will and capacity to bring about accountability for violent abuses. Its vibrant civil society is uniquely placed to urge sustained efforts to strengthen the ability of the national authorities and central police to prohibit and punish cases of religious violence, and to monitor those responses in the public arena.”

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