Police have arrested a young woman in Karachi for allegedly desecrating the holy Quran and registered a case against her under the country’s blasphemy laws.
According to Bilal Colony Police Station House Officer Ahmed Nawaz, he was patrolling the area when he was informed that a woman had allegedly burnt a copy of the holy Quran on the main road near Sector 5-E in the New Karachi locality.
“When I rushed to the spot, I saw a significant number of people gathered around the suspect. One of the women, Iram Asif, said that she was in a rickshaw when she saw the woman burning a copy of the holy book on the main road.
Sources said the mob also tried to kill the woman by setting her on fire in the middle of the road.
“According to Iram, she got hold of the desecrated copy of the holy Quran and also snatched a knife that the suspect was allegedly carrying in her other hand,” the officer said.
Inspector Nawaz added that when the suspect was brought to the police station, a mob gathered outside, however, the police prevented the situation from deteriorating.
The police officer said they were yet to ascertain the mental health of the suspect and further investigation was underway. He said that the suspect was a resident of Dadu district and that her husband had told police that she was emotionally disturbed and was under psychiatric treatment.
According to the FIR [First Information Report], nothing was found from the suspect’s possession. It added that the copy of the holy Quran which was given to the police by Iram Asif was burnt from para one to three.
The FIR was registered against the suspect under Section 295-B of the blasphemy statutes which states that “Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life”.
On Oct 5, a medical board in Hyderabad declared that a Muslim man, whose alleged act of desecrating the holy Quran on August 21 had sparked violent protests by Muslims against the minority Hindu community, was mentally unstable and unfit to stand trial.
The medical board of Sir CJ Institute of Psychiatry in its medical examination report stated that the accused, Abdullah Surhio, was suffering from ‘chronic psychosis’.
The suspect was arrested on Aug 29, after the police investigation found that a Hindu sweeper, Ashok Kumar, who was charged with the offence of desecration in the FIR lodged at Cantt police station, was innocent.
The incident sparked a violent reaction as thousands of people gathered around the Rabi Centre, the apartment building where a burnt copy of the holy book was found.
The mob tried to storm the building to attack the Hindu family but the police and rangers stopped them. A week later it emerged that a young man belonging to a Muslim family had actually desecrated the holy Quran.
MISUSE OF BLASPHEMY ALLEGATIONS
According to a research, at least 89 persons were killed in 1,415 accusations and cases of blasphemy since Pakistan was formed in 1947.
The Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in a report stated that from 1947 to 2021, 18 women and 71 men were extra-judicially killed over blasphemy accusations. The allegations were made against 107 women and 1,308 men. Out of the total, 1,287 persons were accused of committing blasphemy from 2011-21.
“The actual number is believed to be higher because not all blasphemy cases get reported in the press,” the report said, adding that more than 70 per cent of the accused were reported from Punjab. The data showed that 55 cases were filed in the Islamabad Capital Territory, which was more than the cases of blasphemy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Azad Kashmir put together.
Moreover, 1,098 cases were reported from Punjab followed by 177 from Sindh, 33 from KP, 12 from Balochistan, and 11 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).