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LAHORE: Blasphemy accused dies

May 29, 2004

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LAHORE, May 28: An under-trial blasphemy accused, who was attacked and wounded by a policeman on May 25, died in the Lahore General Hospital on Friday.

Labourer Samuel Masih (29) of Basti Saidan Shah had been accused of blasphemy in August 2003. The accused was caught by prayer leader Chaudhry Yaqoob of the Jinnah Bagh.

The prayer leader had alleged that the labourer had littered the walls of a religious institute in the garden, inscribed with some Quranic verses. Together with the prayer leader, dozens of people had allegedly tortured the accused before handing him over to the police.

A blasphemy case under Section 295 of PPC was registered against the accused with Civil Lines police and he was sent to the Kot Lakhpat jail. The accused fell ill there and doctors diagnosed him with TB in prison hospital.

He was shifted to the Gulab Devi Hospital. Two policemen were deployed on his guard duty. One of the policemen, Faryad Ali, on May 25 allegedly attacked him in his head with a hammer.

The staff caught the policeman and immediately shifted the blasphemy accused to the General Hospital where he died on Friday. The body was removed to the city mortuary for autopsy.

A case already registered against the accused policeman was turned into a murder case. He had already been sent to jail. The accused policeman is reported to have no regret for his act and believes that it will earn him paradise.

Condemning the killing, All Pakistan Minorities Alliance chairman Shahbaz Bhatti called upon the government to repeal the blasphemy law. "This is not the first example of the misuse of the law." He said his organization was going to file a petition against a senior police official and prison hierarchy for their negligence, which had resulted in the murder.

Already a writ petition filed by advocate Pervaiz Chaudhry in the LHC had pleaded for an action against the police hierarchy. The judge had directed the city police chief and the police concerned to produce relevant record before him on Monday, the lawyer said.

He alleged the police were attempting to give favour to their colleague by distorting evidence against him. "The accused policeman has been sent to jail without completion of investigation."