LAHORE: Holding police responsible for the Kot Radha Kishan incident, the Pakistan Ulema Council has demanded speedy investigation into the incident through a judicial commission.
“(The incident) was a complete failure of the police. Had it taken steps in time the tragedy might not have taken place,” council chairman Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi told a press conference here on Thursday.
Bishops Samuel Azariya and Sibtain Shaw, and leaders of various Muslim schools of thought were also present.
Demand speedy investigation through judicial commission
Reading out a written statement, what he said, drafted unanimously by the Muslim and non-Muslim leaders, Mr Ashrafi demanded the government set up a judicial commission to probe burning alive of a Christian couple on blasphemy charges by a mob in Kasur district a couple of days ago and make public its report within two weeks.
The accused must be tried in an anti-terrorism court, he said, urging the Chief Justice of Pakistan to direct the court to adjudicate the case within a month.
He said taking it a test case they would follow to its logical end, winning justice like in the Rimsha Masih case. For the purpose, he announced setting up of a committee comprising Muslims and Christian leaders.
“The perpetrators have neither served the cause of Islam nor the country. Rather, in fact, they defamed both the religion and their country,” he said.
Even if the couple had committed the offence of blasphemy, he said, the accused didn’t have the right to penalize them and recalled that the council and individual religious scholars had issued decrees against taking law into one’s hand.
“Rights of all citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution and no one can be given the right to take the role of a plaintiff, a judge and an executor on to oneself and begin massacring the people on religious, linguistic and personal prejudices.”
Mr Ashrafi also condemned the propaganda against Islam and Muslims under the cover of such tragic incidents, clarifying that the act of an individual could not represent a whole community or religion.
Clarifying that the Christian community was not against the blasphemy law, Bishop Azariya demanded clearly defining the term blasphemy by the parliament and scholars to check its misuse. He also called for ensuring sentencing of the Kasur incident case accused to deter others from taking law into their hands.
He also announced holding of a joint Muslim-Christian meeting this Sunday afternoon to form a joint strategy against repetition of Kasur-like incidents.
The council also appealed to ulema to condemn the incident in their Friday sermons (today).
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2014