LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Gujranwala on Tuesday sentenced three convicts to death — including two Christians and a Muslim — over charges of blasphemy.

ATC Gujranwala Judge Bushra Zaman handed down the death penalty to Anjum Naz Sindhu, Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali for committing blasphemy. Javed Naz and Ali have been sentenced for an additional 35-year imprisonment each.

Anjum Naz and Javed Naz are Christians, while Jaffar Ali is Muslim by faith.

The judge has also imposed a fine of Rs5 million on Anjum and Rs8 million each on Javed Naz and Ali.

Gujranwala city police had arrested Anjum Naz, Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali an year ago over blasphemy charges.

Editorial: Blasphemy cases

Anjum Naz, a resident of Farid Town some 80 kilometres from Lahore, runs a chain of Locus Schools System in Gujranwala and has been associated with teaching profession for the past 20 years.

Sindhu’s younger brother Asif told Dawn, “Javed Naz was employed at one of his schools. When his brother fired Naz for leaking metric examination papers, he turned against him.”

“Later Javed Naz, with the help of his friend Jaffar Ali, started blackmailing Sindhu and started demanding extortion by claiming that they had his voice recorded in which he had committed blasphemy,” he said.

He said Sindhu did pay Rs20,000 as extortion but they did not stop demanding money and again demanded Rs50,000 from him.

“Sindhu, after consulting with different religious elders and friends, went to the police station and lodged a complaint against Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali for demanding extortion.”

Asif said the police conducted raid and arrested both Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali and also booked his brother and registered a case of blasphemy against them on behalf of the state.

“They uttered blasphemous words in my brother’s voice to get revenge for taking action against Javed Naz and later started demanding extortion”.

He said without any forensic checking of the voice recorded by Javed Naz, his brother was sentenced to death over a false allegation.

“My brother had thousands of Muslim students and they never complained about his behaviour”.

He said “my brother lodged the complaint against Javed and Jaffer for demanding extortion but instead he was booked and later sentenced to death over a fake charge of blasphemy”.

FIR available with Dawn states that Anjum Sindhu approached a police patrolling team and reported that two persons Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali had demanded extortion from him. He paid them Rs20,000 and they asked him to arrange Rs50,000 more.

the copy of FIR available with Dawn states that Anjum Sindhu had approached a police patrolling team and reported that two persons Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali had demanded extortion from him. "He paid them Rs20,000 and they asked him to arrange Rs50,000 more."

It further states that the patrolling team had accompanied Anjum raided at a street from the rare side of Rex Cinema and arrested both Javed Naz and Jaffar Ali and also recovered Rs20,000 from them.

They had told police that Anjum Sindhu committed blasphemy during his sermon at Locus School which was recorded by Javed Naz in his phone, the FIR reads.

Policemen went to Javed’s house and recovered the memory card and a mobile phone.

Police later booked Anjum Sindhu and Javed Naz for committing blasphemy and recording it on mobile phone while Ali was booked for demanding extortion.