SAHIWAL: Chichawatni city police have booked five employees of a transport company and owner of a bus terminal under blasphemy law for desecrating turban of a Sikh passenger during a scuffle for complaining about inconvenience during the travel.

The complainant, Mahinder Paal Singh (29), a resident of Multan, told Dawn on telephone that he was traveling from Faisalabad to Multan by a bus (FDS 676) owned by Kohistan-Faisal Movers company that broke down near Dijkot.

He said though the driver somehow started the bus again but its speed was very slow (around 30km per hour) and it reached from Dijkot to Chichawatni terminal in five hours.

He said that at the terminal he and some of his fellow passengers complained to the transport company’s staff about the slow speed of the bus and demanded an alternative vehicle for the onward journey.

The two sides exchanged words, ensuing a free-for-all, during which six company employees and terminal owner manhandled the passengers, including Mr Singh.

He alleged that during the fight a bus terminal hawker, Rashid Gujjar, threw his turban on the ground.

Mr Singh said the turban was considered sacred in the Sikh religious code and throwing it on the ground was tantamount to desecration.

According to some affected passengers, Mr Singh told police, that reached the bus terminal following the brawl, that it was a case of desecration and since he was a Pakistani national the attackers should be booked under blasphemy law.

Khaizer Hayat, Chichawatni city police SHO said five of the attackers -- terminal manager Baqir Ali, Rashid Gujar, Faiz Alam, Shakeel and Snawal had been booked under sections 295, 148 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Mahinder Paal Singh.

Abdul Sattar, the investigation officer, said police were conducting raids to arrest terminal owner Haji Riyasat.

DSP (headquarters) Ghulam Muhammad, who went to the terminal leading the police, confirmed an FIR (169/16) had been filed under blasphemy law against the suspects.

Mr Singh alleged that some local politicians were backing the suspects and influencing the investigations. He appealed to Punjab chief minister to take notice of the incident and ensure justice was done.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2016

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