The blasphemy case against a Christian minor, Rimsha, took a new turn after the testimony of a witness saying the evidence against her had been planted.
Hafiz Zubair told a judicial magistrate on Friday that he saw Khalid Jadoon, the cleric behind the case, adding pages of the Quran into the ashes seized from Rimsha.
“I tried to stop the cleric from doing that but he refused to listen to me,” a police source told The Express Tribune quoting the witness, who was in aitkaf in the very mosque near Mehrabadia, a slum in the periphery of sector G-11 where Rimsha was living. Aitkaf is a religious ritual requiring the person to stay and pray at the mosque during the last 10 days of Ramazan.
The ashes were brought to the cleric by a young man named Hammad, who told the prayer leader that the Christian girl had burnt pages of the Quran; however, no such pages were visible in the ashes. After a talk with the boy, the cleric put some pages of Quran into the ashes in order to falsely implicate Rimsha, Zubair told the magistrate.
Zubair confirmed to The Express Tribune on phone that he had given the statement. However, he refused to give further details, before switching his phone off.
A senior police official formerly associated with the case investigations said based on the testimony, the police could register a case against the cleric or at least take him into custody. However, there were no reports of the arrest of the cleric on whose insistence and pressure the Ramna police had registered the blasphemy case against the Christian girl. No senior police officials, including SSP (Operations), were immediately reachable for a comment.
Hearing put off till Monday
Meanwhile the court of Additional Session Judge Muhammad Azam Khan on Saturday adjourned the hearing of the case till Monday after her parents requested the court to allow them to change her lawyer.
Rimsha’s mother, Irshad Bibi, requested the bench to allow Tahir Naveed to defend her daughter in place of Anjum Riaz, her existing lawyer. She told the court that they had no association with Riaz, who has acted dubiously during the case.
Also, Rao Abdur Rahim, the lawyer representing the complainant, objected to the fact that neither Rimsha nor her mother had signed the bail application submitted to the court or given the power of attorney to their lawyer.
Justice Khan directed the police to verify the power of attorney and adjourned hearing till Monday.
Talking to the media after the court proceeding, Naveed, Rimsha’s counsel, alleged that the complainant is employing delaying tactics. “The medical report has declared her mentally impaired and determined her age between 13 to14, so how can she commit blasphemy?’’
The complainant has challenged the validity of the medical report.
Earlier on Friday, the court had extended the girl’s judicial remand for two weeks. The girl, a Christian and said to be suffering from Down’s Syndrome, has been held since August 16 under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, evoking a strong reaction from rights groups.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012.
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