LAHORE: The parents of Junaid Hafeez, formerly a visiting faculty member of the Department of English Literature of the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Multan, have appealed to Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa for justice for their son, fearing for his mental and physical health.
They say their son has been languishing in solitary confinement in a cell of the Central Jail, Multan, for the last six years on the false charge of blasphemy.
Junaid was accused of blasphemy in 2013 and his trial had been dragged on since then with one of the defence lawyers gunned down along the way.
“Due to transfer of many judges, delaying tactics of prosecution witnesses, and difficulties finding adequate legal counsel for the defence because of the sensitive nature of the case, our son continues to await justice in a fabricated case,” Junaid’s parents said in a written appeal to the CJ.
On Sept 3, the last prosecution witness — the investigating officer — was questioned in the case which was awaiting a verdict. However, despite the passage of almost three months, no decision had been issued thus far while the prosecution brought five petitions since then, each of which was dismissed by the court, the written statement said.
“Our son, who has already been living under a state of fear and solitary confinement, is facing intense mental stress and anguish.”
It added that prolonged solitary confinement for 24 hours in a small cell that measures 8.6 feet had adversely affected his mental health.
When the family complained, the jail authorities arranged for a psychiatric examination and medications were prescribed.
Junaid’s statement has been recorded on Nov 21 and the next hearing is scheduled for Nov 30 in which final arguments are to be made by both the prosecution and defence sides.
The family said the verdict, which is due after final arguments, could be delayed on procedural grounds and it fears such an eventuality would further hurt their son’s mental and physical health.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019