70-Year-Old Blasphemy Accused Ahmadi Man Dies In Jail While Awaiting Bail Hearing

70-Year-Old Blasphemy Accused Ahmadi Man Dies In Jail While Awaiting Bail Hearing
A 70-year-old Ahmadi man who was on trial for blasphemy died in Bahawalpur Jail due to alleged mistreatment despite his ill health, as he awaited his bail hearing scheduled for later this year.

Mr. Asghar Ali Kalaar, who was arrested in September 2021, had denied all allegations of blasphemy and claimed it was a frivolous complaint. His request for bail had been postponed until November, despite ample evidence presented by his lawyer of his deteriorating health.  He remained incarcerated while his Post Arrest Bail Application was pending before the Supreme Court.

On January 4, he was taken to the hospital after he started vomiting blood, where he was handcuffed to the hospital bed during treatment.  He spent the three final months of his life in jail.  He died at Victoria Hospital, Bahawalpur on January 10.

Mr. Ali Kalaar leaves behind a widow and three children. He was the second Ahmadi man to have died while on trial for allegations of blasphemy in the past year.

Blasphemy, section 295-C under the Pakistani Penal Code, is punishable by death. A report by the Center for Social Justice indicated that approximately 20 per cent of people accused of blasphemy are Ahmadi, although the group account for less than 2 per cent of the total population.

In 2020, 200 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, the highest number per year on record. Approximately 75 per cent of the accused were Muslim, of whom 70 per cent were Shia.  The remaining 20 per cent were Ahamdi; 3.5 per cent were Christian; and 1 per cent were Hindu.