ISLAMABAD, Aug 23: In an unexpected twist to the tale, the Muslim complainant in the latest blasphemy case is now in trouble and has gone into hiding.

Shortly before Eid, a young Christian girl was accused of burning some pages which reportedly contained verses from the Quran. She was allegedly caught by Malik Ammad who then reported the incident to the police and other residents of Mohalla Badyal in Mehria Jaffar, near G-11 sector in Islamabad.

However, now a large number of local residents, mainly belonging to Malik clan, are opposing the local clergy in support of the Christians living in the locality.

“We all want justice. This means that the rightful punishment to the culprit as per the law – be it Sharia, the Christian law or the country’s law,” said Abu Baker, a local resident and the neighbour of both Ammad and the Christian family.

While the residents seem to be playing fair in accordance with law, the local clergy Maulvi Khalid Jadoon got annoyed at Malik Ammad accusing him of having ‘shaky faith’.

Since Ammad’s house wears a deserted look as nobody comes out of it when approached by outsiders, including members of civil society and media, the locals tell how a rift has developed between Ammad’s family and the clergy.

“Our imam gave a fiery speech and some people demanded that if not the whole family, at least the girl should be burnt to death for her crime, but Ammad came forward and stopped it,” said a local resident. Without naming anybody he added, “we all are against these wild people who come straight from the jungle,” alluding to people who committed acts of violence in Gojra-like incidents.

In a similar move, another religious zealot, Qari Amir Qadri, launched a campaign against the alleged blasphemer. He took rounds of nearby markets on August 16 calling upon the masses through a loudspeaker to gather at a local market and show their allegiance to ‘Quran and the Prophet’.

Qari Amir Qadri, with the help of a mosque in G-11/2, organised a demonstration to protest against what they called burning of the Quran.

During the whole process the clergy developed differences with Malik family and like Maulvi Khalid Jadoon, Qari Amir Qadri too accused them of having weak faith.

In his speech, Qari Amir Qadri announced that all the Christians would be kicked out of the locality before Eid but he was opposed by Malik Amjad, who is paternal uncle of Ammad.

However, PML-N MPA from Rawalpindi Malik Iftikhar came to the aid of Malik Amjad as he has strong connections with the party and the MPA told the clergy that the issue would be discussed later on.

“We have decided to send Malik Ammad into hiding till the court calls him to testify so that the maulvis cannot harm him because they want us to act, but he is also under pressure from officials and Christians to back off from his allegation,” Malik Amjad said.

Malik Amjad’s efforts to provide safe exit to the girl’s family from Mehria Jaffer also annoyed the clergy.

Hafiz Omar Farooq, who travelled to Ramna police station some three to four kilometres away from the village to inform the police about the incident on August 16, told Dawn that they did not believe in reckless violence or the inhumane treatment of anybody.

“Sharia does not allow any brutal action. We must follow the principles of the Quran for identifying the culprit and awarding him/her punishment,” said Hafiz Omar.

That is why a visit to the locality revealed that the Christian residents were roaming around freely and none of them was averse to discussing the issue.

“We have been living here for six years and we have no trouble with anybody,” said Shaukat Masih, a public sector university employee.

Most of the Christians living in the locality are from a lower socio-economic background and have migrated to Islamabad from Central Punjab.

Local residents told Dawn that Ammad spotted the girl disposing of some pages that contained holy verses as he was heading to the mosque for evening prayers.

Since the garbage dumping site is located right in front of his house, Ammad immediately called his mother, but some children told the whole story to everyone in the mosque.

As the girl’s father Misrak Masih was not at home the residents decided to send Haji Hameed, an elder of the locality, to the girl to talk to her and her mother.

Later, the local residents decided to talk to the police and hand over the accused. But most residents feel that even if the incident happened, it was unintentional.“She did not know what those pages were,” said Mehreen Noor, 10, a Christian resident, while responding to a comment made by a Muslim woman.

The police said after the arrest, the accused was taken to hospital where doctor declared her fit in the report.

Advocate Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, who is pleading the case, told Dawn that he submitted the application in the city’s district and sessions court seeking constitution of a medical board to ascertain the age of the girl. He said according to the church record the girl was 11 years and three months old, while the police and hospital record showed her to be 16.

While it is being said the girl’s mother and elder sister are in police protection, her father and other siblings have gone to Faisalabad, their native town.

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