False blasphemy charges: Gojra-like carnage narrowly averted in Gujranwala

Several hundred families flee their homes; two Christian men taken into protective custody following mob attack.


Asad Kharal April 17, 2011

LAHORE:


A Gojra-like carnage was narrowly averted after police took two Christian men, a church elder among them, into protective custody after some elements tried to spark violence by falsely accusing them of desecrating the Holy Quran and committing blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in Gujranwala.


The ugly incident took place just after Friday prayers in the Azizabad Colony when some elements tried to incite a mob attack on the residence of Farrukh Mushtaq Gill and his father Mushtaq Gill by making announcements on mosque loudspeakers.

Activists of some religious outfits, led by several clerics, encircled Gill’s house and tried to burn it down. Phillip Dutt, a local pastor, said that several hundred Christian families living in Azizabad and nearby Gulzar Colony fled their homes over fears of extremist violence, adding that his own family had moved to avoid any untoward incident.

Accusations against the two men first emerged two or three months ago when burnt pages of the Holy Quran were found outside their house along with a statement, clearly identifying them as the ones desecrating the Holy Quran, with their postal address written over it.

The statement claimed that they had committed other such blasphemous acts in the past and would continue to do so unless someone had “enough guts to prevent them from doing so”. Rejecting the allegations, Dutt said he knew both men well, adding that nobody in their right minds would do such a thing.

He said that they were “clearly being framed by someone who wanted to get even in some unrelated matter or out of sheer jealousy”.

He said that Farrukh holds an MBA degree and worked as a welfare officer at a local National Bank branch, while Mustaq Gill, was an elder of the Presbyterian church who worked at the Christian Technical Training Centre in Gujranwala.

A heavy contingent of police rushed to the spot and managed to defuse the situation. Security personnel were deployed around the house and its roof. Although a case was registered under Ssections 295-B and 295-C of the blasphemy law in the Jinnah Road police station, the FIR was immediately sealed, Station House Officer (SHO) Muhammad Nadeem Maalik said.

Both men were shifted to an undisclosed location for their own safety, he said.

A sizeable number of people, local religious leaders, clerics and activists of various religious organisations again took out a protest rally to press the police to take action against the accused. A meeting was later held between Muslim and Christian leaders, officials of the local administration and police to resolve the issue.

The SHO said that the situation was “under control”, adding that the protesters dispersed peacefully after senior law-enforcement and administration officials extended assurances.

An eight-member fact-finding committee had also been constituted, comprising an equal number of Muslim and Christian leaders.

He said that an investigation would be conducted under the guidance of the committee and the matter would be resolved, adding that it had till Friday to complete its probe.





Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2011.

COMMENTS (14)

Suneel Malik | 10 years ago | Reply We are living in a country where we need permission of others to breath. Who knows, when this sort of allegation can be put on somebody without any solid reasons and proofs. We all know that these allegations are just used to ruin the lives of opponents, and these laws are misused for personal grudge and revenge. The procedure of these laws/allegations must be revisited and scrutinized. Suneel Malik
Naseem Anthony | 10 years ago | Reply Banned religious outfits are operating in Pakistan fearlessly. Where is the state and writ of the state. "Blasphemy has earned bad name for Pakistan in the world, Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Gojra, Korian, Sukkhar, Sangla, Shanti Nagar, Fanish Robert etc......" Who is going to declare, what the blasphemy is, (When this series of killing will come to an end) Misuse of Blasphemy laws has become fashion,
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