The High Court in Islamabad held its first hearing yesterday, January 27, in the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri, the murder of Salman Taseer. Qadri, himself confessed killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, which occurred on January 4, 2011. He admitted his guilt and said he killed Taseer because of his support for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been charged with blasphemy. However, the hearing has been adjourned to February 3. Mumtaz Qadri, was a serving constable in the Punjab Police and member of its elite force, when he shot the then Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer. Qadri had filed an appeal before the court on 6 October, 2011, whereas the judge who sentenced him to death was harassed to such an extent that he had to flee the country after receiving serious death threats.
On the other hand, there have been nationwide protests in favour of Mumtaz Qadri where protestors chant slogans in his strong favour. The protestors blatantly demand Qadri’s release as they warn the Government for dire consequences if Qadri is not released. He is considered a “hero” of Islam by protestors. Reportedly, hundreds of supporters and members of Islamic groups were present outside the court and chanted slogans in favour of Mumtaz Qadri during the court proceedings. Due to the seriousness of the issue, strict security arrangements were ensured and the road to High court was blocked with barricades. Moreover, a large number of police and special force personnel were deployed at buildings in the surrounding areas.
A Christian Advocate, and rights activist said that the Human Rights Defenders had great concern regarding the appeal case of Qadri because “if Qadri were be acquitted from Salman murder case then the fear of insecurity of life would be increased among them. The fueling to religious intolerance and violence will be stopped by condemning such elements of society who take law in their hands to harass peace workers”.