Pakistani Christian accused of committing blasphemy has been acquitted by Sheikhupura court. Two years ago, Usman Liaquat was accused of posting alleged blasphemous comments on Facebook. After being emancipated, he has joined Christian charity group British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).
32-years-old Usman was arrested on May 23, 2016. Usman Liaquat who hails from the Christian community had reported to the police that Nawaz Khadim, Hanan Ramzan, Aftab Zulfiqar and Ehsan Asmat Virk had violently attacked him. Consequently, Ehsan’s cousin leveled charges of blasphemy against Usman Liaquat.
Nawaz, Hanan, Aftab and Ehsan had beaten Usman violently. Usman who sustained severe head injuries was hooked by police on blasphemy charges. He remained imprisoned for two years and was consequently acquitted by the court due to lack of substantial evidence. However, Usman was not compensated all the upheaval he and his family had faced.
The dissent began when Nawaz, Hanan, Aftab and Ehsan strated harassing Christian girls studying at the Care Foundation School in Sheikhupura; Usman Liaquat’s sister-in-law Mehnaz Noor was also among these girls. Father of Mehnaz Noor and Usman Liaquat approached these four men’s families and informed them about the situation. The parents of these men asked them to stop their lecherous activities. They stopped for a while, however started harassing the Christian girls again.
On May 23, 2016 the gang of four men stopped Usman Liaquat while he was going to work. They threatened him to stop interfering in their activities. Usman told them he would file a police compliant against them. Consequently, the four men started beating him.
Cousin of Ehsan warned Usman that any further action against the four men would result in more violence. However, Usman reported the incident to the police and named the four men in the FIR. On the same day, the culprits registered an FIR against Usman Liaquat accusing him of blasphemy. Usman learnt about the counter FIR next day.
He was detained while Ehsan stated that Usman had sent blasphemous text messages on is phone. When the inspector asked him to show the text messages he was unable to show, and fabricated another story that Usman had sent blasphemous messages from Facebook.
The inspector then, checked Usman’s Facebook account, and found none of the offensive messages or posts. Ehsan then claimed that Usman had deleted the blasphemous messages. Ehsan and the cleric who had come with the four men started pressurizing the inspector to register a blasphemy case against Usman.
Narrating the incident to BPCA, Usman Liaquat stated: “On 29th May 2016 at 12 am I was taken to the DPO Sheikhupura where I was tortured and beaten in an attempt to make me accept that I had committed a blasphemy. I stayed resolute however and suffered without implicating myself. The pain did not matter it became dull after a while, I just knew I had to stay alive and maintain my innocence for the sake of my family.
After 10 days I was allowed to meet my family who told me that police had taken my mobile phone and laptop into their custody. I stayed in prison for exactly 19 months and I counted the days with anger and bitterness as I knew I was innocent and the real criminals had been ignored because they were Muslim.
I was isolated and unable to talk to anyone and feared I would not be able to retain my sanity. I found myself talking to myself at first but then I stopped trying to think my way out of an impossible situation. I stopped talking to myself and started talking to God and slowly but surely things began to change.
I began to regain my mental poise and confidence. I realized that I was not alone and worshiped God fervently. He spoke to me and told me that he kept me alive when I could have been killed by my persecutors or the police. He told me I would be set free again in record time and I chose to believe – that is what stopped me going insane like many of those around me.”