LAHORE: Okara police on Saturday arrested the imam of a mosque on terror charges in relation to the incident involving a 15-year-old boy who had cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy.

On Friday night a first information report (FIR No. 36/16) was registered against the prayer leader Shabbir Ahmed on behalf of the state under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Police officials said the cleric was arrested under the National Action Plan (NAP) for inciting violence during a speech in which he asked a controversial question.

Around five days ago, the cleric, addressing a Mehfil-i-Milad at a village mosque in Chak 3D of Hujra Shah Muqeem town in Depalpur Tehsil of Okara District, said that "those who love the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) always say their prayers".

He then asked his audience "Who does not love the Prophet (PBUH)?" The cleric asked, "Raise your hand.” The child misheard the question and raised his hand.

The imam then pointed to the youth and alleged he was a "blasphemer who was liable to be killed".

When asked, members of the crowd said they were aware the boy had not committed blasphemy as he was the victim of a misunderstanding.

However, police maintain that the allegations of the cleric led to the boy's heinous act, as he felt ashamed and dejected after being called a blasphemer.

The 15-year-old maintains that the imam is blameless while his act was reportedly celebrated by his parents and neighbours.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can stir mob violence and lynchings.

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