GOJRA: The local Police admit Shafqat and Shaguftah’s blasphemy case was registered under immense pressure from local clerics.
According to a police official, Muslim clerics, local lawyers in addition to a Bar official were enraged when the news of blasphemous texting spread that they hovered around the police station until the FIR was lodged.
Gojra in general is a religiously explosive city where a week ago a young Christian man was sentenced to life imprisonment on the same charges. On July 13th, Sajjad Masih, a Christian, was sent to jail for life for the same sort of text messages case. What’s more the city police of Gojra in alliance with some local religious fundamentalist severely beat Sajjad Masih resolving for extrajudicial judgement.
Subsequently, his case was delegated to the court of Mian Shahzad Raza, Additional Session Judge Gojra, for trial. However, complainants fell short to prove the allegations against Sajjad Masih. Despite the fact that there was no substantial evidence against the allegedly accused Christian the Additional Session Judge Shahzad Raza sentenced him to life in prison rather acquitting him owing to extensive pressure from local clerics and extremist group.
Still earlier in 2009, fundamentalists set the Christian colony ablaze over alleged blasphemy allegations. This arson claimed eight family members burned alive. The fire was alighted starting from the KorianVillage, District Toba Tek Singh while hundreds of houses burnt to ashes as far as it reached. Many local Christian families vacated their houses and relocated to other areas of the country; some fled from Pakistan fearful for their lives.
The area is better known as haven of a banned militant organization. However, it has been reported previously that the local government is supporting this organization. In a report compiled by a local senior judge based on his fact-findings of the Gojra incident, he clearly mentions that the authorities are well aware of the activities of extremist groups yet they turn a blind eye towards them.
According to the report, the Inter services Intelligence and local intelligence agencies knew banned extremist groups were organizing the mobs, yet authorities did not take preventative action.
“Everything could have been avoided, if the local administration did what they were supposed to do,” says Mehboob Khan, who headed fact-finding trips to Gojra for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Parallel to the riot in Joseph Colony, Lahore earlier this year. Mr. Khan says police had several days to curtail growing threats from Muslim extremists in Gojra.