Three held after bail dismissal in blasphemy case

Published February 4, 2020
The suspects were seen dancing to Indian songs in front of religious banners. — Creative commons
The suspects were seen dancing to Indian songs in front of religious banners. — Creative commons

CHAKWAL: Three persons were arrested and sent to Jhelum prison after a court cancelled their pre-arrest bail in a blasphemy case, police said on Monday.

On Jan 10, a local journalist, Abdul Ghaffar Paras, lodged an FIR against four persons belonging to a local TV channel under Sections 294 (obscene acts and songs) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The FIR also contained clauses of the Punjab Sound System Regulation Act.

The complainant stated in the FIR that he watched a video on Facebook on Jan 10 in which some women were seen dancing to Indian songs, with two banners inscribed with pictures of Kaaba and Masjid-i-Nabvi.

He said that when he tried to know details of the event, another journalist, Raja Rifaqat Ali, told him that the event was held on Dec 31, 2019 to mark the launch of a local TV channel.

He named four persons related to the TV channel and maintained that they injured his and other Muslims’ religious feelings by playing “obscene” songs and dancing in front of the pictures of the sacred sites. He also submitted a fatwa issued by a local cleric along with his application seeking to lodge an FIR.

The police booked the four persons and arrested three of them when a local court cancelled their pre-arrest bail. The court sent the held suspects to prison on judicial remand.

Only a few days ago, the suspects had circulated an affidavit on social media, maintaining that some local journalists and police officials were running a malicious campaign against them just to mint money. They said they were devout Muslims and could not even think of insulting their own religion.

One of the suspects, in a video statement, also apologised for their negligence regarding the banners during the dance performance. According to him, the event included recitation of the Quran and Naat before songs and dance.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020

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