SHEIKHUPURA: Sheikhupura police on Friday arrested two men including a cleric who had led a mob that assaulted a Christian couple and paraded them after accusing them of blasphemy in Chak 460, Makki village, three days ago.
DPO Sohail Zafar Chattha told The Express Tribune that an FIR had been lodged against the two men at Saddar police station for incitement to violence against the couple. The police refused to share other details about the FIR and said that it had been sealed under the Police Rules of 1934.
Read: Penalties proposed for false accusers of blasphemy
Following the incident on Tuesday, the couple, Awais Qamar alias Gharibo Masih and Rukhsana Masih, and their four children were shifted to Sargodha under the guardianship of Mary Gill, a provincial assembly member on a minorities seat, and
Advocate Tahir Naveed.
A police official at Saddar station who was in the team that rescued the couple said the crowd had let them go with the condition that they would not return to the village.
Witnesses said that before the arrival of the police the crowd had beaten up the couple, painted their faces black and garlanded them with wreaths containing shoes and paraded them in the village.
Saddar police said some passers by had stopped Qamar and his wife on Tuesday afternoon from eating in public at a school building where Qamar was working as a construction worker. He said that during the argument that ensued the cleric had also appeared on the scene and accused the couple of having committed blasphemy. “They were sitting on an old college poster laid on the floor. There was a popular Arabic prayer written on the poster,” he said.
He said on receiving information about the incident a police team was sent to the scene with instructions that the couple should be rescued at all costs. Meanwhile, the crowd swelled as people from nearby villages also reached the scene on hearing about the news. Sabir Masih, a Christian resident of the village, said he was present when the incident took place. He said several faces in the crowd were strangers to him. “I had never seen them in the village before.”
DPO Chattha said he had sent the team with clear directions. “I had authorised them to shoot anyone who would stop them from their work,” DPO Chattha said.
Read: Intervention: Police save Christian couple from lynch mob
He said he had also reached the scene later. “I convinced the crowd that the couple had committed no blasphemy. I told them the prayer written on the sheet was not part of the Quran,” he said. He added that the accused were illiterate. “They could not have told if the text was taken from the Quran even if that was true,” he said.
Pastor Asif, also a resident of the village, lauded the police’s role in preventing unrest and rescuing the couple.
Chattha said the majority of the village’s population was Muslim and there were 57 Christian families. A police picket has been set up near the village following the incident to prevent unrest.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2015.