Guests at an iftar party in Ferozewala village in Sheikhupura on Saturday (July 19) turned on their hosts, accusing them of blasphemy, and handed them over to the police on Tuesday.
Police said that they had registered a blasphemy case (under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code) against five people to placate a charged mob that staged demonstrations against them in front of the Ferozewala police station on Sunday and Monday.
On Monday, police said the mob even broke fast in front of the police station.
Advocate Kamran Naseem Batalvi told The Express Tribune that initially the police were unwilling to register a case but the mob forced them to do so. He said on July 19, Muhammad Aslam of Ferozewala village and his cousins organised an iftar party at his artificial jewellery workshop. Aslam had also invited Qari Muhammad Qamar who delivered a speech on the occasion and allegedly uttered derogatory remarks against Allah and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
He said after the iftar, Maqsood Ahmed, who was also invited, got together around 50 people and accused the hosts of committing blasphemy. Batalvi said the men forced entry into the workshop and beat up Aslam and other people there with sticks and clubs. Latif Ahmed Awan, one of the men being beaten up, tried to run away and someone from the angry mob shot at him.
Elders in the area intervened and locked the victims in a room to keep them safe and called the police. He said the mob grew unruly and the police barely managed to take the men away with them.
The protesters marched on to the police station and demanded that the SHO register a case against the men under Section 295-C of the PPC. The SHO however told the mob that he would decide the matter after consulting the superintendent on Monday.
The protesters were also joined by Qari Muhammad Ahmed Faridi, who had been performing aitekaf during the last 10 days of Ramazan. Faridi left the aitekaf and arrived at the scene. He told The Express Tribune that he had left the aitekaf so that he could eloquently argue the case for the mob before the police.
He said that he had led several campaigns against Ahmadis in the area and had served time for killing an Ahmadi person. Faridi said that he had previously managed to shut down a school run by Awan’s brother-in-law Arshad.
He said that people in the area had requested him to leave the aitekaf as the situation was dire. “I managed to have the FIR registered,” he said.
He alleged that Latif was heading a sect introduced by Captain (r) Masoodudin Usmani in Ferozewala and also ran a school in the area. Faridi said that he would get that school shut down on the basis of the FIR.
Rehmat Bibi, mother of Shabbir Ahmed, one of the suspects, told The Express Tribune that they were Muslims and had arranged an iftar party in good faith. She said the assailants had accused them of being Ahmadi and later said they were Parvaizis. She said, “We are Muslims and believe in one God.”
She said six members of her family of 10 were in police custody after being severely beaten by the charged mob. She said first the guests attended the event and had dinner but later returned and attacked the hosts.
She said he son Shabbir was on his way home from the market and had more than Rs50,000 with him. She said the mob snatched the money during the scuffle. She said among those arrested were Razzaq, Mansha and Usman Ali, who were nephews of her husband. She said Aslam and his father Muhammad Umar, Muhammad Qamar, Muhammad Qasim and Latif Awan were also among those arrested.
Some officials at the police station said that the SHO had shifted the detained men to an undisclosed location and had not placed their arrest on record.
SHO Rana Muhammad Azam told The Express Tribune that they were investigating the matter. He said they would bring on record the arrest of those found guilty. He said no one had been arrested or detained so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.
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