A Christian bicycle mechanic in Lahore was arrested on June 15 over allegations of blasphemy after he became involved in a dispute regarding payment for services rendered to a customer, police said Thursday.

Human rights activist Napoleon Qayyum told Dawn that Ashfaq Masih ─ a resident of Mariam Colony in Green Town, Lahore ─ was working at a repair shop in the Bagarhian suburb of the city when Muhammad Ishfaq, a resident of the same area, had his bicycle repaired by him.

The two became embroiled in a heated argument when Masih demanded Rs35-40 for his services and Ishfaq requested that Masih reduce the price as he is a poor man, Qayyum said.

The disagreement escalated when Masih refused to lower the fee, reminding the bicycle owner that he was a poor man himself and needed the money as well, according to the rights activist.

After a crowd gathered to witness the incident, unidentified individuals levelled accusations of blasphemy against Masih, prompting further escalation of the already-tense situation, Qayyum claimed.

Police, who were called to the scene, arrived and arrested Masih, shifting him to the Green Town police station.

Station House Officer (SHO) of Green Town police station Wasim Akhtar confirmed to Dawn that a blasphemy case had been registered against Masih on June 15 after his arrest.

The Pak Center for Law and Justice is investigating the case.

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