A Chinese citizen, who was apprehended on charges of blasphemy, was transported from Upper Kohistan to Abbottabad in a helicopter provided by the Pakistan Army on Monday afternoon due to concerns for his safety, according to Komila Station House Officer (SHO) Naseeruddin.
The accused, who is employed at the Dasu Hydropower Project, was taken into custody by the Komila police on Sunday night following allegations of blasphemy made by laborers at the site.
SHO Naseeruddin confirmed the arrest and stated that a First Information Report (FIR) had been filed against the Chinese national at the Komila police station. The complaint, cites Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which pertains to the use of derogatory remarks or actions against the Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him). The FIR was filed based on the complaint lodged by Gulistan and Yasir, who are both heavy vehicle drivers.
According to the complaint, on Sunday night, Police Official Jehanzeb received information about a mob attempting to break into a Chinese camp near Barseen. The complaint stated that local residents had staged a protest and caused damage to site number 6 of the camp.
Upon receiving the information, a police team arrived at the site, took control of the area, and safely transported the accused to the Komila police station, as mentioned in the complaint.
However, in the early hours of Monday, a large number of people gathered in Komila and once again blocked the Karakoram Highway, while also chanting slogans. The protesters only dispersed after the police assured them of registering the FIR. Local religious leaders also appealed to the demonstrators to end the protest.
Later in the day, SHO Naseeruddin informed that the accused had been moved to Abbottabad via an army helicopter due to concerns that the locals might harm him. He also mentioned that Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act had been included in the FIR, and that the Chinese national would be presented before a court in Abbottabad.
Fatal Consequences of Blasphemy Allegations: 89 Lives Lost Since 1947
In February 2022, a middle-aged man was brutally stoned to death by a mob in a remote village in Khanewal district, Pakistan, over allegations of desecrating the Holy Quran. This incident occurred shortly after a similar case in Sialkot, where a Sri Lankan engineer was lynched by factory workers on December 3, 2021, on charges of blasphemy.
In January 2022, the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) released a report stating that a total of 89 individuals had been killed in 1,415 accusations and cases of blasphemy in Pakistan since gaining independence in 1947. The report revealed that from 1947 to 2021, 18 women and 71 men were extra-judicially killed based on accusations of blasphemy, with allegations made against 107 women and 1,308 men.
Out of the total, 1,287 citizens were accused of committing blasphemy between 2011 and 2021. However, the report noted that the actual number is believed to be higher as not all blasphemy cases are reported in the press. The majority of the accused, over 70%, were reported from the province of Punjab.
The report further highlighted that the misuse of blasphemy laws is often deemed by courts as an unlawful act. The Islamabad High Court had previously suggested to the legislature to amend the existing laws in order to impose equal punishment on those who falsely level blasphemy accusations.
The origin of blasphemy laws in Pakistan dates back to the British era when they were promulgated in 1860. Initially, four blasphemy laws, namely sections 295, 296, 297, and 298 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), were introduced. In 1927, section 295-A was added after the case of Ilmuddin, a Muslim carpenter, who killed Mahashe Rajpal for publishing a blasphemous book.