In line with a recent report about 74% of all cases pertaining to the blasphemy law spring up from Punjab province. The Center for Social Justice in its report discloses that over the past thirty years there has been a sharp rise in the number of blasphemy cases being registered in Punjab. The report pin points District Lahore as the hub for such incidents.
The report further outlines the figures saying that in Lahore only there are 173 blasphemy cases that are verified. More than 11% of all blasphemy cases in Pakistan have been reported from District Lahore. The report went on to unveil that in Lahore only about 14 people lost their lives in relation to the blasphemy cases. Across the country the total number of murders in connection to blasphemy cases reached 75 until 2018.
The report further detailed that in this regard, at least four people were murdered during police custody. Director of Center for Social Justice Mr. Peter Jacob while assessing the findings noted: “The stories of men and women of different faiths present shocking accounts of brutality and enormous suffering of helpless victims”.
“Hundreds of people have been tortured, jailed, and imprisoned. Property worth billions of rupees was destroyed by an angry mob on the Lahore Mall Road in 2006 and at Joseph Colony in 2013,” but “the economic loss is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the social, political and cultural consequences in Lahore”.
The NGO quoted Amnesty International saying: “the blasphemy law is widely abused to perpetrate hate crimes based on religion, regulate personal vendettas and perpetrate economic injustice”. The statement continued: “Given that the Lahore district is home to many religious groups promoting a narrative based on religious intolerance, it is not difficult to understand why Lahore has become an epicenter of the abuse of blasphemy laws.”
The Center for Social Justice also highlighted the recent case of two Christians namely Patras Masih, and his cousin Sajid Masih. Patras Masih resident of Shahdara, Lahore, was accused of posting a blasphemous photo on Facebook. Their dilemma did not end here Patras and Sajid were reportedly subjected to inhumane torture by the investigative team.
“The circumstances involving these cases deserve a deeper thought from a legal standpoint. Members of civil society have not given up despite the difficulties. Lawyers have fought for years in a hostile social environment. Will leaders of public institutions have the courage and wisdom to save the city from turning it into a cemetery of innocent people? It is time to listen to the cry of the innocent”, Peter Jacob stated.