LAHORE: A large number of people, including clergymen, took to the streets on Friday, condemning the flawed investigation, torture and inhuman treatment of Sajid Masih and Patras Maish by the FIA officials. They also demanded the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to reinvestigate the case.
Speaking on the occasion, Bishop Azad Marshall of Church of Pakistan said that credible representatives from the Christian community should be allowed to monitor the proceedings of the investigation.
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Bishop Irfan Jamil from Church of Pakistan, Qasir Ferooz from Catholic Church, Amjad Niamat from United Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, Riaz Malik from Eternal Life Ministry and Irfan Mufti SAP-PK also took part in the protest held at Charring Cross.
Bishop Jamil demanded the Lahore administration and police ensure safety and security of the Christian community, particularly in Shahdara Town so that all displaced families could return to their houses. "The case against Sajid Masih, under charges of attempt to suicide, be withdrawn and investigations by JIT regarding the alleged torture and enforce sexual abuse against the Federal Investigation Agency personnel, be initiated on the complaints of Sajid and Patras."
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He said that an empowered and efficient implementation committee be appointed to implement the recommendations of the Gojra Judicial Inquiry, which has been ignored since 2009.
He added that concrete steps to stop the misuse of blasphemy law, particularly against religious minorities, should be stopped.
Qasir Ferooz said that the government of Punjab should actively work to inculcate peace and interfaith harmony under the National Action Plan. He added that the judgment given by Supreme Court concerning the protection of religious minorities on 19 June 2014 be implemented in letter and spirit.
An implementation committee be set up and the report be submitted in the parliament as well as the human rights bench of the Supreme Court.
Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) Executive Director Bushra Khaliq urged the government to check the violation of human and fundamental rights in the cases at hand.
Seventeen-year-old Patras Masih was accused of allegedly posting blasphemous material on social media. According to reports, on February 23, 2018.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2018.