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15 Christians arrested in Pakistan under blasphemy law

By M Zulqernain
September 05, 2014 18:32 IST
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Pakistani police have arrested 15 Christians and booked 45 other members of the minority community under the controversial blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating Muslim graves in a village in Punjab province, sparking tension in the area.

The case was registered after a local cleric filed a complaint alleging that the Christians had desecrated over 400 Muslim graves to occupy the land in Chak village in Faisalabad, about 150 kilometres from Lahore.

Condemning the registration of case, a rights group alleged that “fake” blasphemy case was filed against them on the pressure of the cleric and Muslims as they did not want the land allocated to Christians.

“In fact, not a single grave existed in the land allocated to the Christians by the local administration for their graveyard,” Human Liberation Commission Pakistan Chairman Aslam Sahotra said. He demanded Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to look into the matter.

Muridwala station house officer Usman Lashari said the land allocated to Christians was said to have “an old Muslim graveyard”.

He said police had registered the case on the complaint of the cleric that the Christians had desecrated Muslim graves to occupy the land. “We are investigating whether the land in question has traces of graves of Muslims or not. If no traces of Muslim graves are found we will strike off the blasphemy clause in the FIR,” he said.

The registration of case has sparked tensions between Muslim and Christian communities in the village and additional force has been deployed in the area to avert any untoward incident.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law is often used to persecute minorities like Christians and to settle personal scores.



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