Musarat Bibi, a Christian woman employed as a peon in the Government Girls Higher Secondary School 66 E/B situated in the Arif-Wala Pakpattan Pakistan, has been arrested on the accusation of desecrating Holy Quran, when she was cleaning the storeroom cupboards along with the gardener Mohammad Sarmand on the orders of the school administration. While they were burning the extra papers extracted from the storeroom cupboards, Gardner recognized some of the pages as of the Holy Scripture. After the incident few students and teachers started a protest which was controlled by the school administration. The situation escalated when Kashif Nadeem, a prime accused, called the Police and told them about a Christian woman who had burnt the pages of the Holy Book. The school administration has acknowledged the efforts of the both of the workers on trying their level best to remove the identified pages and have termed the incident not their fault.
The victim Musarat Bibi has three daughters, two among them are married while the youngest one is 14 year old. Her youngest daughter has been shifted to the safe place by the remaining family members. Musarat has been fixed on this job, after the demise of his husband who was a Primary School teacher and died during his service. Christians living in the area are fearful for Musarat’s safety, as there have been incidents where individuals accused of blasphemy were beaten to death by the religious fanatic mobs.
Human Rights Lawyer Advocate Javed Sohatara a local of PakPattan, informed that the accuser Kashif Nadeem has levelled the allegations of blasphemy against the vulnerable Christian widow, with intentions to balance his own personal scores with her. He further said that the accuser maintains extremist religious ideology and has levelled such accusations against other people as well in the wake of his own radical approach.
Revealing the details, he added that Kashif Nadeem had a grudge for the female Christian worker in the school. Explaining the reason for his animosity with her, he said that the administration of school had given her the additional charge of managing the affairs of the school canteen, this school canteen was previously owned by his (kashif) close kin. He was waiting for the moment to fix his personal score with her and accusation of blasphemy is a life-threatening allegation in Pakistan for anyone. This allegation would have removed her from the school canteen and from job permanently, he discovered.
Disclosing the details, he said that the administration of the school and the leadership of the village are well aware of the reality and are in the support of the Christian lady. The tension for the victim family will deescalate soon, due to community support, he hoped.
Joseph Jansen, who is Head of the Voice for Justice Pakistan, pointed out that human rights violations in Pakistan have seen a rise on a massive scale under the guise of blasphemy laws. Highlighting the atrocities against the marginalized women of religious minorities, he said that cases of such manners remained unchecked from the authorities and voices of misery remained unheard due to which the increase in the accusations of blasphemy is taking place on a frequent basis. He also underlined that, due to rise in false accusations, an immense fear has stirred among the community of the area, especially among the working women of minorities. Majority of the women have been discouraged to work in such a tense environment by their families. The decrease in their labour will enhance the financial challenges at their households, and will raise the poverty and vulnerability and will further down their social status, he stated.
Jansen, also lamented that the complainants and witnesses leveling false allegations against the accused enjoyed impunity and are not criminalized in the public discourse. They are not effectively prosecuted for charges of perjury under Section 182 of the Pakistan Penal Code, whose punishment extends to 5-7 years. The provision, if enforced, could help change a climate of impunity and the direction of the stakeholders involved and the public about responding to such accusations. He also urged the authorities to formulate an action plan to end the abuse of this law against the vulnerable. It has been observed on several occasions, how accusers of blasphemy have been a helpless prey of mob violence. Fanatic individuals in several cases have also taken the law in their hands to serve vigilante justice.
Minorities Rights Watch Pakistan spokesperson Zara Amoon Gill stressed upon the police reforms in this regard and requested authorities to direct the police department to appoint at least SP level officers to register such complaints and charges. She also urged the government to make a strict policy to punish those accusers, whose accusations are proven false. Zara also brought to notice the security of the accusers during the case and urged the government to ensure the security of the accuser until the verdict of the Honorable Court in order to save them from the vigilant mobs.