Radicalism in prison: Taseer’s killer incited shooting of blasphemy convict, reveals inquiry

By AFP
Published: October 29, 2014
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A file photo of Mumtaz Qadri. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A file photo of Mumtaz Qadri. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Mumtaz Qadri, a policeman jailed for murdering former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, incited a prison guard to shoot an elderly British man convicted of blasphemy, according to an internal inquiry.

Muhammad Asghar, whom British doctors say is mentally ill, was shot and wounded by a guard at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail last month. The 70-year-old was sentenced to death for blasphemy in January.

The prison guard, Muhammad Yousuf, had spent more than two weeks guarding Qadri, a senior jail official said. He said an initial inquiry found that Qadri had also prepared two other prison officers to hunt down blasphemy convicts in the prison.

“The accused [Yousuf] was deployed outside the cell of Mumtaz Qadri during the incident and he had confessed to taking religious lessons from him,” the jail official told AFP.

The official’s account of events was supported by three other prisoners held in the same part of the jail, who said guards regularly took religious instruction from Qadri. “I was sleeping when I woke to the sound of gunshots and I saw the prison staff grabbing one of their fellows while Asghar was lying on the ground in a pool of blood,” an inmate living next to Asghar’s cell told AFP. A second prisoner who saw the attack said a guard appeared in the wing and demanded to know where Asghar was.

Asghar was reportedly trying to hide in the bathroom area of his cell while the gunman was firing at him. “He was lucky that he reached the bathroom and the other prison staff arrived to grab the assassin, otherwise he would have been killed,” the prisoner said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2014.

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