Landmark reprieve: In a first, Rimsha granted bail in blasphemy case

The girl has been held in Adiala Jail since Aug 16.


Obaid Abbasi September 08, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Rimsha Masih, the Christian girl who was arrested for an alleged blasphemous act three weeks ago, was granted bail in a landmark decision for a case that has sparked an international outcry. One of her lawyers said it was the first time anyone has been released on bail for blasphemy in Pakistan.


The case of Rimsha, who was accused of setting fire to papers inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran, incited particular condemnation because she is underage, illiterate and said to suffer from learning difficulties.

Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Azam Khan announced her bail for Rs1 million in a packed, sweltering courtroom after hours of chaotic proceedings, but Rimsha is likely to spend another night in custody because there was not enough time to post the bail bonds.

During proceedings, Rimsha’s counsel, Raja Akram Ameen, requested the court to grant bail to his client saying that nothing had been proven against her so far.

He pointed out that since the cleric who accused Rimsha of blasphemy was arrested for the same charges, it was likely that the evidence against his client was fabricated to force the Christian community out of the area.

Investigation Officer Munir Jaffery backed Ameen’s claim, informing the court that the cleric, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, had allegedly tampered with the evidence by deliberately planting burnt pages of the Holy Quran in a plastic bag that Rimsha was carrying. He added that Chishti was sent on judicial remand and would be produced before the court on September14.

The prosecutor, Advocate Rao Abdur Rahim, claimed that the investigation officer and doctors were “manipulating” the evidence, under pressure. He also claimed that Rimsha had confessed to committing blasphemy, and added that there was no reason to grant her bail.

“Today’s order of the court has brought a good name for the country because Rimsha is a daughter of Pakistan,” Riaz Anjum, one of the lawyers defending the Christian girl, told The Express Tribune.

“It is not only a victory for Pakistan but for all our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world who raised their voice for Rimsha. The entire Christian community is grateful to them,” he added.

An official medical report has classified Rimsha as “uneducated” and aged 14, but with a mental age younger than her years. Others have said she is as young as 11 and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. She has been held in jail since her arrest in Mehrabadi, a poor Islamabad suburb, on August 16.

According another lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, Rimsha would be released on Saturday (today) at the earliest and that a date for the next hearing would be fixed in three or four months’ time.

“It is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan for anyone accused of blasphemy to be granted bail,” Chaudhry told AFP.

“She will be kept in a safe and protected place with her family,” he said.

Minister for National Harmony Paul Bhatti welcomed the verdict.

“We are in touch with the interior ministry and police, and they have assured us that wherever she stays full security would be provided to her,” he told a news conference. “Her mother is very happy that justice had been done,” he added.

Supporters and human rights activists have demanded that the case be closed, particularly after Chishti was arrested. (With additional reporting by Qaiser Zulfikar and AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.

COMMENTS (28)

Qaiser | 10 years ago | Reply

@lovePak:

The christian girl got more attention by Pakistani Media because she was Pakistani , not some other country girl . How can you compare a pakistani person to some other country citizen as far as highlighting is concerned . For correction of record . SHanti Nagur , Gojra , and many other incidents are part of our history so you cant deny that massive attacks on christians dont happen in Pakistan . And why you are thinking America represents Christian or any religion . Thats the major misconception people have in Pakistan . ANd how the Rimsha is related to America ? I am surprised why you confuse issues .

lovePak | 10 years ago | Reply

Or about the current use of DU ammunition in Afghanistan by the US. Under your noses, your own government is basically using nuclear weaponry, don't you feel for your brothers there? Hell, even the Taliban can treat women better than America. And according to you people, it's Pakistan who's a nuclear hazard. Let's start by at least stopping the guys currently using it, the same guys who used biological warfare in Korea, Vietnam etc. And of course, the famous 'acts of war': Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The US government uses the most sick tactics to do what they want, it is they and not Pakistan who are the current hazard in this world. Hope you're enlightened!

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read