Additional District and Sessions Judge Javedul Hassan Chishti has cancelled the pre-arrest bails of a school principal and six other employees, who are accused of blasphemy for including the principal in a list of role models alongside the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
The respondents attended proceedings on a private complaint on Monday morning and were summoned by the judge for 3pm to hear his verdict. However, they did not turn up for the announcement.
Qurban Ali, the principal of Qurban and Surayya Educational Trust, and other school officials are alleged to have committed blasphemy in a school book that they made titled Qurban Agahi.
The book included a chapter on role models and a set of four questions and answers about what makes a good hero and some good examples. Six “heroes for our society” were listed as: 1) Holy Prophet (pbuh); 2) Quaid-i-Azam; 3) Sir Syed Ahmad Khan; 4) Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah; 5) Abdul Sattar Edhi; and 6) ‘Sir Qurban’, the principal of the school.
Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, the counsel for the complainant and the president of the Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, submitted that the school officials had blasphemed. He said that tests were given to students asking who their favourite role model was, and many wrote the principal’s name. He said that the principal had tried to compare himself to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He said that Mufti Muhammad Khan Qadri had issued a decree (fatwa) declaring them to have committed blasphemy.
The respondents said that they were innocent. They said that the police had investigated the allegations and, finding them to be untrue, discharged the complaint for the FIR, which was registered in September 2009. They said that they had not intended to offend with the books. They said that ulema of Jamia Naeemia had issued a decree stating that they had apologised and had not intended to commit blasphemy. The ulema had said that there was room in Islam to forgive those who committed an act unintentionally.
Astonishingly, they also told the court that the ulema had asked them to expel all Christian and Ahmedi teachers from their school and that they had done so. They asked the court to grant them bail.
Advocate Chaudhry said that the police decision to discharge the complaint had been challenged before Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry at the Model Town Courts and the judge had directed the police to submit the challan of the case. He said that the offence of blasphemy could not be forgiven. The judge cancelled the bail petitions of Qurban Ali, Abida Mehmood (school administrator), Sadia Saeed (IT coordinator), Naheed Naeem (assistant), Saima Khan (assistant), Sajida Perveen (composer) and Syed Yassir Ali (computer graphics designer).
The seven had received interim bail from ADSJ Mahrookh Aziz Tarar some six months ago.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2012.