Nephew’s charge: Blasphemy suspect held after big protest

Published: December 10, 2012

Suspect booked under section 295-C; Police say evidence sufficient to prove charges. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: Following a massive protest by local residents, clerics and seminary students, police arrested blasphemy suspect Dr Iftikhar A Khan on Sunday.

Hundreds of people demanding Dr Khan’s arrest blocked IJP Road, suspending traffic for hours on Sunday. They dispersed only after police registered a case against the accused under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. Dr Khan, a resident of Islamabad’s sector I-8/4, was moved to an undisclosed location for further investigation.

“The content recovered from the suspect’s possession appears to be blasphemous. However, we still need to determine its context,” a senior police official told The Express Tribune. Ultimately, it is up to the court to decide whether the accused is guilty of blasphemy, he maintained. If proven guilty under section 295-C, he can be sentenced to life imprisonment or even death.

Dr Khan will be produced before a court on Monday to obtain his physical remand for further investigation, the official added.

The complainant in the case is Dr Khan’s nephew Sheikh Usman. Police say Usman will also be questioned as to why he took 11 years to report the alleged blasphemy – the text in question had been written in 2001.

“Dr Khan had filed a Rs5 billion damages claim against Usman in some civil case. This could be the reason why the latter reported the case just now,” another police official informed The Express Tribune. He added that police will also look into the civil case’s history.

A senior police official

The official said Usman’s father Sheikh Rashayad told police that his brother started using language which could be interpreted as blasphemous, several years ago. He claimed his family had not been on speaking terms with Dr Khan for the past five years. Rashayad maintained his family never mentioned his brother’s work out of fear for their own lives.

However, the question remains as to why Usman chose this moment to report Dr Khan’s act.

The suspect has so far rejected the allegations against him. He maintained his book, which allegedly contains blasphemous passages, was an unpublished personal draft, said the police official. The copy of the confiscated book, however, shows that it was published in 2001 and that at least 1,000 copies were distributed, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • fareeha
    Dec 10, 2012 - 1:06PM

    why is there always a case pending/land dispute when people accuse someone of Blasphemy..

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  • Jat
    Dec 10, 2012 - 1:08PM

    In Pakistan, the severity of the crime depends upon the street strength of the accusers and the number of old tires they own.

    In Pakistan, the innocence of the guilty is proven by the number of flower petals showered on him.

    Finally, after trial and much error, rule of outlaw has been established. Now time to divide the spoils.

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  • TrueBlue43
    Dec 10, 2012 - 1:59PM

    @Jat: “number of old tires they own” …… lol

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  • Nadir
    Dec 10, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Settle family disputes, by being the first to accuse the other of blasphemy!

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  • Eddie dex
    Dec 10, 2012 - 6:06PM

    When is Pakistan going to be intelligent enough to remove this stupid blasphemy law…no modern country would even consider such an archaic rule…when people can be put in jail for accusations of blasphemy then no one is safe…and many innocent people will suffer…

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  • jibran
    Dec 10, 2012 - 6:10PM

    We are setting very dangerous precedents, where people will use this law to settle the scores. Thus is already happening, but their frequency is alarming. This “senior” policeman should be fired or transferred, for making the statement on a very sensitive case.

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  • Amarah
    Dec 10, 2012 - 8:00PM

    The sensical result of the abuse of a law is not its abolition but the eradication of its abuse

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  • Hammad
    Dec 10, 2012 - 8:10PM

    God rest Salman Taseer’s soul in peace. He tried to fight against the hoards of religious nutjobs destroying our country.Recommend

  • Mohsin
    Dec 10, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Well, here we go again. This nation is going nuts with such barbaric and wild acts of stupidity.

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