Alleged blasphemy case: Police eschew forensics, fingerprinting

Man who filed FIR did not nominate S.

Faraz Khan July 05, 2011

KARACHI:


The man who registered the FIR for the burning of the Holy Quran did not name S, who was arrested on Friday — it was the police who put his name down, based on the information provided by a mob and “black magic” evidence they said was found in his trouser pockets.


Twenty-five-year-old S was charged with blasphemy outside his residential apartments in Block 21, Federal B Industrial Area last week. “There will be no progress until we find an eyewitness,” investigator Akhtar Jawad told The Express Tribune on Tuesday. “But we still have four days [of remand] We’ll manage to do something or the other during this time and even if we don’t get anything we will still present the challan in the court. “

The officer said that there was no need for scientific or forensic evidence as they believed that only fingerprints could help them. “The Holy Quran we found was such that prints would not have stayed on its cover,” he said. “And then a lot of people from the crowd had touched it as a result of which the entire fingerprint deal ended.”

S was handcuffed to the gate of the lockup in a way that he had to keep standing and his arms were raised. The nervous young man, who was wearing a t-shirt over jeans and slippers, watched people enter and leave the police station. He seemed to have a nervous facial and body tic and appeared to be muttering to himself. Because of a lack of understanding of these conditions, he was being misinterpreted as a “psycho” or psychiatric patient. When The Express Tribune asked him about the behaviour, he explained that he couldn’t move because of how he had been strung up and he had to keep shaking his head to get rid of the flies that were buzzing around him.

“I don’t do any black magic,” he told The Express Tribune in clear, lucid, albeit angry tones. “I’ve been accused of it and I don’t know why, but it looks like someone is trying to frame me.” He was inside his apartment with his younger brother who had told him that two men, Asif and Najam, who are linked to a political group, were calling him downstairs.

“When I went down a crowd was there,” he said. “I was trying to gauge what was happening when some people got a hold of me and handed me over to the police.” I didn’t and couldn’t have ever done something like that, he went on to say.

Initially, The Express Tribune reported that a man named Ali, a neighbour, was the complainant but police said that one Mohammad Saleem who lives in a bungalow near the apartments was behind the case. Saleem told The Express Tribune, however, that he had not named S in the FIR. “His name isn’t anywhere,” he said. “My FIR was on the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran, nothing else.” All he knows is that S’s neighbour Ali had said that he saw S at the site shortly after the incident.

“The place where the Holy Quran was burnt has garbage piles and no one really goes there,” said Saleem. “So why was S seen there?” Saleem then went on to apply his own reasoning which went as follows: if S was innocent, he should have reacted when he was charged with burning the Holy Quran. “I’ve seen him and he makes strange faces and was gesturing strangely as if he were crazy or was doing some kind of black magic.”

S’s lawyer, Muzaffar Iqbal Sufi, told The Express Tribune that his client was being framed and they were looking into who could have motive.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.

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