Published: December 24, 2011
“298 Ahmedis had been charged under the blasphemy laws since 1984,” a spokesman for the Jamaat-i-Ahmediya.
Sajeel Ahmed, 18, of Khushab was accused of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in a first information report (FIR) registered under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which carries the death penalty. The complainant is his classmate Waqas Nadeem, who said that Sajeel had tried to convert other students and made remarks that hurt their religious sentiments.
Sajeel’s father Hakim Jameel was accused of describing his son as a Muslim in his school admission form, an offence under Section 298-C of the PPC with a penalty of up to three years in prison. The complainant in the case is Qari Saeed Ahmed, who submitted that “the Muslims of Khushab are worried about the increasing number and activities of Qadianis in the city”.
Mujahid Ahmed, Sajeel’s brother, said that the police had registered the cases under pressure from religious leaders. “They have been making announcements at local mosques against Ahmedis and taking out protest rallies,” he said. He said that Qari Saeed had a long-term dispute with his father over property. He said that Saeed’s own son, a former teacher of Sajeel, had given police a statement in support of Sajeel. Previously, Jameel had said the charges against them were baseless.
Meanwhile in Gujrat, the police registered a case against Basharat Ahmed, headmaster at Government High Schools Kang Chanan, Gujrat, under Section 295-B of the PPC. He is accused of defiling the Holy Quran, an offence that can be punished with life imprisonment.
Ahmed allegedly snatched Arabic books from students who were cheating during exams at his school and threw the books in a pond. The complainant, Qari Mazhar Zargar, accused him of defiling Quranic verses written in those books.
Mubarik Ahmed Chaudhry, the brother of the accused headmaster, said that no one from the school had joined the case against his brother. He said that Zargar was being directed by people who had a property dispute with his brother.
“The teachers have all given statements to the police backing my brother. The police have been put under pressure by clerics here. The case has been registered six days after the alleged incident,” he said.
Sub Inspector Akhtar Shah, the investigation officer for the case, said that the headmaster had been arrested and investigations were ongoing.
A spokesman for the Jamaat-i-Ahmediya said that the community faced “an organised campaign of hatred and persecution” in Pakistan. “The campaign of hatred has reached new heights where even educational institutions are not safe for Ahmedi students and teachers,” he said.
“Such baseless cases against Ahmedis will not deter us,” he said. “This is not the first time that such cases have been registered against Ahmedis and will not be the last one. As in the past, these cases will also be proven false.”
He said that since 1984, 298 Ahmedis had been charged under the blasphemy laws.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.