The police headquarters superintendent on Monday requested Additional District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza to hold trial proceedings for Sawan Masih, accused of blasphemy, in a jail instead of open court.
SP Hassan Mushtaq Sukhera, in his letter to the judge, said special measures needed to be taken in this case, as more than 150 houses in Joseph Colony had been set on fire following allegation of blasphemy.
He said this was a sensitive matter and certain measures were required to ensure the security and protection of the prisoner.
He said Sawan Masih was held in a judicial lockup at Camp Jail and was produced in court when required. However, due to the sensitive nature of the case, Sukhera prayed a jail trial should be held to avoid an untoward incident.
He said Masih was transported to the court in an armoured car under tight security.
Judge Murtaza wrote to District and Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmed Ganjana on Monday seeking directions on SP Sukhera’s letter.
Sawan Masih meanwhile, withdrew his application for an after-arrest bail from the court on Monday. A panel of four lawyers from an NGO Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), submitted power of attorney on behalf of Masih.
Advocate Bashir Sahotra withdrew the plea for bail saying that it was too early in the case to seek bail. He said the threat to Masih’s life would increase if he was set free at this time. Masih had submitted in his bail plea that the police had registered a false case against him only to humiliate him.
The judge distributed copies of the case record and fixed April 22 for framing charges.
Shahid Imran, the complainant, had submitted that he had been talking to his neighbour Muhammad Shafique, when the accused, Sawan Masih, had approached them and used derogatory language against the holy prophet (pbuh). Imran said he warned Masih to stop but he continued his diatribe before he fled.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2013.