Christian Widow, Muslim Gardener Arrested On Blasphemy Charges In Pakpattan

Christian Widow, Muslim Gardener Arrested On Blasphemy Charges In Pakpattan
A Christian widow and a Muslim gardener, both illiterate, were arrested in Pakpattan on April 19 on blasphemy charges after they were accused of ‘intentionally’ burning papers containing verses of the holy Quran.

As per details, on April 15, a 46-year-old Christian widow named Mussarat Bibi and a Muslim gardener named Muhammad Sarmad were assigned the task of cleaning the storeroom of the school, which was filled with paper and other scrapped items. They gathered the paper and other scraps in a corner of the school and burned them. Students later found that the burned items also contained holy pages.

Four days later, a local resident named Kashif Nadeem contacted the police and accused the illiterate Christian widow of committing blasphemy by burning pages of the holy Quran at the school.

The complainant also gathered a mob outside the school and started protesting against the incident. However, police reached the scene on time and took the accused into custody to avert any untoward situation.

The complainant named only the Christian widow, but during the preliminary investigation, police found the gardener was also involved in setting the holy pages on fire; therefore, police nominated both persons in the FIR.

Minorities and human rights activists have raised serious concerns over the incident.

While condemning the incident, minority rights activist Joseph Jansen said that the blasphemy laws are being used as an excuse to violate people's rights on a vast scale. In spite of their vulnerability, crimes committed against women and girls go unpunished, deterring them from seeking employment and achieving equality with men, he regretted.

He said that women were afraid to go out and work as a result of the abuse of blasphemy laws against religious minority women. Knowing that Mussarat is illiterate, innocent, and simply performing her role as she was alleged to have done is clear evidence that blasphemy laws have been misused, he added.