Prison conditions: Blasphemy convict dies after ‘brief ailment’

Published: July 18, 2011
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Shaukat Ali, said to be mentally challenged, was imprisoned in 2007. PHOTO: SXC

Shaukat Ali, said to be mentally challenged, was imprisoned in 2007. PHOTO: SXC

LAHORE: A blasphemy convict, said to be mentally challenged, died in Lahore Camp Jail after what police said was a brief ailment.

Shaukat Ali, 35, was imprisoned in 2007 under blasphemy charges. His family rejected the claims of jail and police authorities and said the death may have been caused by some other reason.

There have been several incidents in jails where those accused of blasphemy have been killed by inmates.

Hameed Ahmed, father of the deceased, told The Express Tribune that they had no information about his poor health and were shocked by the news of his son’s death. He said it is premature to say anything about the death but that the family was sure that he was not unwell.

Camp Jail Superintendent Gulzar Butt told The Express Tribune that on Sunday morning, Shaukat felt pain in the abdomen and started vomiting. He was quickly shifted to Services Hospital where he breathed his last, Butt said, rejecting any possibility of a jail official or inmate’s involvement in his death.

Police official at Services Police post said Ali was a gastro patient and had been moved to a hospital earlier in the day.

Inspector Rana Zulfiqar of Shadman police station claimed that Shaukat was mentally challenged. He said that the inmates were aware of his condition but the illness had not been proven. Shaukat had murdered his inmate during a brawl, which also included three other people and was booked under Pakistan Penal Code Section 302, the inspector said.

Shaukat’s brother Pervez told The Express Tribune that all these years, the family had not known about his brother. “My mother died three years back because of his absence,” he said. Pervez said the police contacted them 15 days earlier and told them that Ali was in prison. “If he was not sick then how did he become so ill that he died in 15 days?” Pervez said.

Hameed said his son became mentally ill around 20 years ago. After being told that Shaukat was in prison, the family started collecting money to meet him in jail. “We did not have enough money to come to Lahore,” Hameed said, questioning why his son was not kept in a mental hospital.

He said that jail authorities had also advised him not to go for an autopsy, adding that he did not want to get into legal complications.

Butt denied any accusation of torture and said the convict died of natural causes. He had been ill for a while, which is why he was moved to a hospital where he died.  The body has been sent for an autopsy, which will clear all doubts, Butt said.

Station House Officer (SHO) of Shadman police station Rana Zulfiqar said that he was kept in the prison because his mental condition was yet not proven by any doctor.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • amjad arif
    Jul 18, 2011 - 11:22AM

    the blasphemy laws and other laws made by the islamic fascist dictator are a blot on our society.making it illegal to discuss and debate religious matters is a severe violation of basic human rights especially in a country where religion is shoved down our throats at all times.The beards and the burkas have been given so much power that it is impossible for any sane and rational human being to survive here.
    on top of that barbaric laws such as the blasphemy laws give the beards the power to blackmail people who dare challenge their misogynistic,homophobic religous dogma.it’s time the blasphemy laws are repealed in total for they are a violation of basic human rights.

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  • muhammad fawad
    Jul 18, 2011 - 11:26AM

    As an ex-muslim who’s now an atheist i find the blasphemy laws especially sickening.these laws prevent me from speaking the truth,now suppressing difference of opinion has been put into law by the government.the ppp which is screaming that they have abolished a dictator’s local bodies law should now concentrate on repealing the law of their most hated dictator,why is the ppp sticking to the laws made by zia?
    the blasphemy laws are nothing but an instrument of oppression and terrorism,they aim to prevent one from discussing the flaws and contradictions present in religion.

    This oppression and cruelty in the name of religion must stop.

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  • waqar khan
    Jul 18, 2011 - 1:06PM

    stopping people from saying the truth cannot/will not hide the truth.the blasphemy laws are savage laws whose sole intent is to prevent any discussion and debate and to further the agenda of islamic fascism.gagging people won’t hide the truth,if i feel that there are certain flaws and injustices in a particular religion then i have all the right to say so.shutting me up by the threat of beheadings and stoning to death won’t change the truth.you can use all the coercion and cruelty you want but the truth cannot be hidden.

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  • beenish zafar
    Jul 18, 2011 - 1:12PM

    zia’s poison is still killing people today.that islamic fascist made these regressive laws to please the saudis and we the pakistanis have been paying the price for his religious perversions ever since.freedom of speech is the most basic and the most essential of all human rights and seeing how religion intrudes in every aspect of our life in this society the freedom to speak openly and freely about religion is the most essential right.if i feel something is not right in religion then i have all the right to say so,cutting out my tongue through these barbaric laws won’t change the wrongness of certain religious things.by closing off your ears and eyes you are only living in a fool’s paradise where you think that religion is perfect.
    i don’t think any religion is anywhere close to being perfect and i have every right to say so.

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Jul 18, 2011 - 4:02PM

    He should never have been in jail, specially if he was mentally incompetent to stand trial. But no one in Pakistan has the guts to face the wrath of the ghairat brigade if he had been let go.

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  • Akthar
    Jul 18, 2011 - 4:11PM

    :(. Really sad!

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  • Javed
    Jul 18, 2011 - 9:00PM

    A cover up as usual.

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