HYDERABAD: Two women are among four persons booked under the blasphemy law for their alleged conduct of mocking the religion and sentiments of Islam’s followers. The case was registered on the state's complaint at the Khanote police station, Jamshoro district, on Wednesday.
Nayab Sarkash, Abbass Ali Khoso alias Sojhro Sindhi, his daughter Sindhia and son-in-law Nazeer Ahmed Khoso, besides eight to 10 unknown persons, have been nominated under Section 295-A of Pakistan Penal Code. The Jamshoro police arrested Khoso on Wednesday night and produced him before the judicial magistrate on Thursday who remanded the suspect to jail custody.
According to the FIR, Sarkash, acting as a nikkah khwan (marriage officiate), solemnised the marriage of Sindhia with Nazeer Khoso in Zaimi village near the Manzoorabad area of Khanote around 10 days ago. "Nayab Sarkash read the nikkah according to Shariat-e-Latifi [Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai's canonical law]." the FIR reads.
The complainant, Assistant Sub-Inspector Bashir Ahmed Janwri, claimed the act ridiculed and profaned Shariati-e-Muhammadi (Islamic canonical law). According to him, the police came to know about the incident through social media after a video of Sarkash solemnising the nikkah spread like wildfire, drawing both condemnation and support.
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In the video, Sarkash can be seen asking the groom thrice whether he accepts Sindhia as his wife as per Shariati-e-Lateefi. "Ghot Nazeer Ahmed Khoso put Khair Muhammad Khoso, Shariat-e-Latifi moajib Sindhia dhee Sojhro Sindhi qabool ahe [groom Nazeer Ahmed Khoso, son of Khair Muhammad Khoso, do you accept Sindhia, daughter of Sojhro Sindhi, under the Latifi canonical law]?," asked Sarkash during the wedding function while sitting among the male family members and guests.
She can be heard asking a brother of the bride to go and get similar consent from Sindhia. The prayer, which followed, started with asking the lord of Sindh to bless the couple in the name of motherland Sindh, Mohen Jo Daro and other historical figures. The names of the seventh century king Raja Dahir, freedom fighters, nationalist leaders like GM Syed and Bashir Khan Qureshi as well as the female characters of Latif's poetry were also taken in the prayer.
Although the act drew condemnation from a cross-section of society on social media, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) provincial leadership announced that they will fight a legal battle over the matter. JUI-F's followers also campaigned on the social media against what they described as an ‘intentional derision of Islam’.
Sarkash, apparently owing to the backlash and anticipated consequences, reached out to JUI-F's provincial general secretary, Rashid Mehmood Soomro, to clarify her position. She claimed that she intended to pronounce the word Tareeqat-e-Latifi, which can be translated as the path of Latif, but ended up mistakenly uttering the word ‘shariat’. She also apologised to the people of Sindh whose sentiments might have been hurt by her act.
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After the clarification, Soomro on September 26 gave up the call for pursuing the incident in court. He also requested his supporters via a social media message to refrain from arguing about the issue. Meanwhile, the area's police lodged the case pointing out local pressure of the residents.
Sarkash, who is a nationalist worker, could not be contacted for her version. Some civil society activists who are in contact with her told The Express Tribune that she will file a pre-arrest bail application in the court on Friday.
Sindh Human Rights Defenders advocate Ali Palh argued that her act did not violate or blaspheme Islam. "She didn't utter words which can be considered profaning a religion. The Constitution of Pakistan allows all religions and faiths freedom to practice."
Sojhro Sindhi is a former activist of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz who is also a farmer. His daughter and son-in-law could not be contacted for their versions. The investigation officer Janwri said the police are trying to arrest the other suspects who are nominated in the FIR.