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Punishment urged for making false blasphemy allegation

April 05, 2013

Angry Pakistani demonstrators shout slogans during a protest over alleged blasphemous remarks by a Christian in a Christian neighborhood in Badami Bagh area of Lahore on March 9, 2013.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Discussing the Badami Bagh incident in Lahore, the Senate Standing Committee on National Harmony on Thursday recommended stern punishment for people involved in making false blasphemy accusations.

Mir Mohammad Ali Rind who presided over the meeting at the Parliament House said the burning of properties in Badami Bagh was a tragic incident which portrayed a wrong image of Pakistan all over the world. He said immediate steps should be taken to avoid such kind of incidents in future.

Kamran Michael, a member of the committee, said when people were accused of blasphemy it took them eight to 10 years to prove their innocence in courts and even after that they could not stay safe in their areas.

“At the moment as many as 100 Christians and a few hundred Muslims are in jails because they were involved in cases of blasphemy but not a single one has been convicted. There should be equal punishment (death penalty) for the person who makes false blasphemy accusation,” he added.

Members of the committee agreed with the proposal and decided to recommend legislation for avoiding misuse or abuse of blasphemy law.

Other members of the committee who attended the meeting were Khalida Perveen, Amar Jeet and Heman Das.

Earlier, the deputy commissioner of Lahore briefed the committee about the incident in which 112 houses were set on fire, saying the incident happened because of the mismanagement of police.

He said police officers were not expecting that sort of reaction by the public against the alleged blasphemy by suspect Sawan Masih who was in police custody at the time of incident. He blamed two trader groups — Aman and Etihad — for the incident, saying members of Aman group started torching the houses in the Joseph Colony.

The deputy commissioner said the colony was located on 23 Kanals of land. The local government constructed 16 quarters there in 1978 but after that illegal construction started and most of houses in the colony were illegally constructed.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police of Punjab informed the committee that there were 45 police personnel at the place of incident on March 9 and the number of protesters was about 3,000.