LAHORE: A blasphemy accused tells his tale from behind the bars.
A Christian held captive in a Pakistani prison disclosed an account of his ordeal to an international organization from his prison cell about the trials surrounding his detention and present confinement.
Adnan Prince, a Pakistani Christian 26 years of age who is publicly known as Adnan Masih was accused by his colleague of committing blasphemy. Subsequent to the accusation, Adnan went into hiding, however, returned a month later after police hooked a number of of his family members. The international agency met with Adnan Masih in his jail cell in Lahore. Adnan’s account is presented as below:
It all started on Oct. 7 when Adnan was filling in for his brother at the Diamond Glass shop in Lahore. During his shift, Adnan who holds a master’s degree in English literature says he found a copy of a controversial book and started to read it and to make notes inside it.
While Adnan was reading the book, a Muslim colleague of his, Abid Mehmood, spotted him and took offence. The next day, Mehmood went to the local police station and alleged that Adnan had “marked several pages … with abusive words. Hearing that he had been accused, Adnan fled. However, he claims that he did nothing wrong.“I found the book quite erroneous, giving incorrect information about Christianity,” he said. “So I wrote comments with biblical references in several places, but no abusive language was used.”
After Adnan had fled, his brother, mother, aunt and uncle were arrested and told they would not be released until he returned. Hearing of his family’s arrests, Adnan returned home on Nov. 6. Once at the police station, Adnan said he was told to keep it quiet that he had been arrested on blasphemy charges, for fear of attacks by other prisoners. But he also said that police tortured him at night. “The police were on the verge of killing me after I surrendered to them, but God kept me safe by His grace,” he said. “When I came to my senses [after one round of torture], I was told that a heavy machine would be rolled over my thighs, which would not only be painful but would render me permanently impotent. Then the deputy superintendent of police pushed the barrel of a pistol into my mouth and told me to confess that I had written abusive words in the book. He said he would count to three and that if I didn’t confess, he would pull the trigger.” Adnan added that on one occasion he was taken outside and told that he was free to go.
“But I knew they were lying and would shoot me from behind if I left,” he said. “I told them that if you want to shoot me, then shoot me in the chest and not in the back. They stopped torturing me when they felt they would not be able to shake my resolve.”
Adnan’s lawyer Aneeqa Maria, director of The Voice Society, told that the police were legally bound to present him before a court within 24 hours after his first arrest, but that they did not do so for fear of starting a riot. “Every day dozens of bearded men crowded the courtroom where Adnan was to be presented, so the police kept lingering on,” she said. Adnan was brought before the court after three days, and then transferred to Lahore District Jail, where he is confined to a small cell on his own. He said that he was being kept away from other prisoners for his protection. His trial has yet to begin. In the meantime, there is a petition in for him to be released on bail.
Before Adnan turned himself in, a letter was sent to a Christian colony in Wassanpura, Lahore, near to where Adnan lived, saying: “Every Christian household in this area is being told to immediately vacate their houses. This time you are verbally warned, but the next time you will be burned and killed.”
One of the Christians in the colony, Javed Masih, lodged a complaint with the local police. “After Adnan and his family had fled from their houses, these extremists were looking for an excuse to attack us,” he said. “For this reason about 12 families fled, while several other families sent their women to their relatives for fear of an attack from the Muslims.” Police stationed themselves outside the colony for a week, and then left. Following this, Adnan submitted a petition to the court for continued protection.