On 21st August I came across a video in which a mob of people were chanting “Labaik Ya Rasul ul Allah” outside an apartment building in Hyderabad. As the video progressed I found out the rowdy crowd had gathered because someone had ostensibly committed blasphemy. It turned out a Hindu man had a clash with a local shopkeeper and booked a fake case of blasphemy against him. The violent group tried to break inside the building and lynch the Hindu man, but a large contingent of Rangers and the police prevented any harm to the lives of the people living in the building. The crowd had to be baton charged, and tear gas was shelled to disperse them.
Upon Pakistan’s independence, the Criminal Procedural Code (CrPC) of 1898 was adopted. Since then, no effort has been made by the lawmakers to amend the code and serve the contemporary interests of Pakistanis. It means, every law under the PPC has to be implemented by the code defined under the CrPC. Thus, it has given many to abuse the law as per their sweet will.
The weaker section has been victimized by anyone who has the sources to misuse the Pakistan Penal Code. The blasphemy laws in Pakistan were incorporated by the British rulers to deal with the sanctity of religion, and religious beliefs. However, other laws pertaining to religious sentiments were included from 1980 to 1986.
To people’s surprise, the imposition of blasphemy laws in Pakistan saw an increase of blasphemy cases instead of a decrease. Their formulation led to an increase in false allegations of blasphemy. The blasphemy laws in Pakistan Penal Code were perhaps made in haste. Most of them are one-liner laws. For example, in case of blasphemy of holy figures, even the word blasphemy is not defined. One can’t help but wonder why the most sensitive matter to Pakistani Muslims is so ill defined, and left at the mercy of the police and the CrPC that dates back hundreds of years.
The Prophet SAWW, without any doubt is the last messenger from Allah, and he is more dear to us than our own lives. But the Blasphemy law has done more damage to the state than it has done good. Last year, a Sri Lankan man was brutally lynched in Sialkot over fake blasphemy charges. It was later found out that the man was a hard worker, and took the employees under him to task if they failed to perform their duties. An honest man was killed brutally because the state has been unhinged about the people living in this country. The CrPC was designed to protect the rulers, not the ruled. The British government left no stone unturned to make sure the locals of this country remained beneath them. Yet, the common person could expect some justice during British rule. In Pakistan the incompetency of the judiciary has forced people to implement mob rule.
Anyone at any time can accuse any one of blasphemy and sentence him to death by lynching, without giving them access to a free trial. Just as there are strict laws against blasphemy, we need stringent laws against false blasphemy accusations. It is no less of a crime than blasphemy itself. Bringing the blasphemy laws under special laws is the only way to maintain the sanctity of religious sentiments and harmony among different sections of the society.
By Amna Sheikh