LAHORE: The family of a Christian man and his 11-year-old son who went into hiding over a week ago out of fear for their lives is reluctant to let them return to their house in Railway Colony, Wazirabad.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Asif Masih*, a brother of Javed Masih*, said that notable scholars of the area had facilitated a settlement between Javed Masih* and a Muslim family who were harassing him and his son after the latter got into an argument with a child from the Muslim family. However, he said the family was not sure that Javed* Masih and his son would be safe.
Masih said Qari Muhammad Naeem, prayer leader at a mosque in the area, and Maulana Asif Hazarvi, another leading cleric, had intervened and arranged a meeting between both families after the Muslim family gathered a crowd and held a demonstration near Javed Masih*’s house. Masih said that the protesters had also made announcements against Javed Masih* and his son from some mosques in the neighborhood and distributed pamphlets accusing the father and son of blasphemy.
Masih said the argument between the two children had started after Salman* stopped Saleem* from drinking water from a tap in a mosque. Later, he said Salman* would frequently stop Saleem* on his way and try to persuade him to abandon his religious beliefs and embrace Islam. He said on learning out about this, Javed* had gone to see the child’s father. “Javed* told me that the family refused to listen to him. Instead, they warned him that they would file a blasphemy complaint against his son,” Masih said.
He said the family had not taken the brawl very seriously so far but he advised Javed Masih* at this stage to go into hiding with his son after the Muslim families held demonstrations and distributed pamphlets against the two.
“They also filed a blasphemy complaint with the police against Javed*,” he said.
Masih said that despite the settlement people close to Muslim family had been patrolling the area where Christian houses were located.
Wazirabad City SHO Nawaz Gujjar said that the blasphemy complaint had been dismissed. He said the police had received a settlement note from the two parties with Maulana Hazarvi as guarantor so there was no need to prosecute. However, he said police teams would continue to patrol the area to ensure that no untoward incident took place. On the reluctance of the family to let Javed* Masih and his son return to their house, the SHO said that it was up to them to make their own decisions. “We have done our job by enhancing security of the area,” he said.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.
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