GOJRA: The religious radicals pronounce Christians accused of sending blasphemous SMS worthy of death.
In accordance with the details, tensions continue to rise in the city since a Christians man Sajjad Masih was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy, few days ago. Followed by yet another case of blasphemy accusing a Christian couple of sending blasphemous SMS to a Muslim.
At this instant, even as local extremists are demanding that Sajjad Masih’s life imprisonment sentence should be changed to capital punishment. In other blasphemy case against Shafqat Masih and his wife lodged on 20th of July, 2013; police booked the Christian couple under 295-C and put them behind the bars the very next day.
However, concerning Sajjad Masih’s life sentence analysts assume that the lower court judges are often provided little security in Pakistan, and are more likely to give in to pressure from religious groups in blasphemy cases in particular convicting the accused though no evidence is available.
According to some this is the reason the judge ruled Sajjad Masih to life imprisonment and not death penalty instead of acquitting him. According to details, day after the verdict, radical Islamists staged a demonstration at the Mankanwala Crossing in Gojra strongly condemning the court’s decision. The protestors insisted for Sajjad Masih’s death, chanting slogans like,” nothing less than the death of a “blasphemer” was acceptable.”
During this protest banners were hung across the city which read, “Only one punishment for the blasphemer; sever his head from the body. Life imprisonment not acceptable, not acceptable and not acceptable.”
Owing to these rising tensions in the city, inter-communal relations in Gojra are high, in particular among the Christian community as the city has already witnessed vandalism in August 2009. As a consequence, nine people were killed when the mob torched two Christian neighbourhoods over rumours that “the Christians had celebrated a wedding by showering the groom with pages torn from the Quran.” Notwithstanding hundreds of arrests, no one has been tried for the Gojra riots yet, whereas, the relatives of the victims have now abandoned Pakistan.
In the years ever since the riots, the Punjab government has reconstructed the hundreds of homes that had been torched in Gojra. While, Christians in the area maintain everything has gone back to normal.