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Image of Samina wife of Arif Masih the only Christian villagers left in Father Colony.
A Christian man has been accused of a blasphemy over a poem that was sent to a Muslim friend by Whats app. Police are now on a nationwide manhunt for Nadeem James Masih (35 years) who is the father of 2 children. The penalty is death for blasphemers in Pakistan where a hard-line form of Islam is espoused.
Nadeem James who is from the Father Colony of Sara-e Alamghir, in the district of Jhelum had an argument with a Muslim friend Yasir Bashir on 4th July. A few days later as the dispute simmered on he was accused by Mr Bashir of sending a blasphemous poem by Whats app. On the 10th July an FIR (initial police report) was registered against Nadeem James Masih under ref:#301/16 describing charges of blasphemy under sections 295c and 298a of the Pakistan Penal code - charges which have the penalty of death.
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It is believed the argument is based on the fact that Nadeem James married a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity. The pastor who baptized the wife of Nadeem James has fled the village after his brother was also arrested.
Shaukat, brother of Nadeem James, said:
"James is a tailor by profession and has two children aged ten and eight. The blasphemy case had been orchestrated against James at the behest of Hafiz* Tariq who despised James for his wife's conversion."
*Hafiz is a term used to describe someone who has completely memorized the Quran and is an authoritative figure in a mosque.
The First Information Report (FIR) registered against Nadeem states that a telephone with the blasphemous texts has been submitted to the police. Shaukhat believes that Yasir Bashir sent the text to himself, from Nadeem's phone to incriminate Nadeem. He has stated that Nadeem James is illiterate.
Copy of actual FIR
BPCA reporter Shamim Masih, met with Kamran Mumtaz the Superintendent of the City Division Station, Sara-e Alamghir. Who said "The FIR was registered after a thorough investigation."
After registering the FIR the police visited the home of Nadeem James but found that he had fled for his own safety and they immediately initiated a national manhunt. In the meanwhile they arrested the sister of Nadeem Samreen and his sister in law Najma in order to exert pressure on Nadeem to give himself up. Najma was also arrested with her 18 month old daughter Alisha who will be detained with Najma for the duration of her incarceration.
Shamim Masih met with the two sisters who have told him that they have been slapped by the police and been shouted out with great aggression, in an attempt to extort the whereabouts of their brother. However, the two women have absolutely no idea where Nadeem has fled. Despite this confession by the sisters, police are still maintaining that they have forcibly detained the Christian women and child for their own protective custody.
The incident has caused a great furore in the local community as Mr Bashir visited local mosques to inform them of the alleged blasphemy. Local Imams have been stirring up trouble by calling hate messages from the PA systems of their mosques. Incensed Muslims gathered at the village of the Christians to undertake a mob attack but were initially thwarted by Police who were on guard duty with a small force.
Most of the 60 Christian families have left the village fearing retribution, despite the police presence. Police have said they will try to protect Christian villagers but are giving no guarantees and the deployed force is too small to tackle a large mob.
BPCA is intending to provide legal assistance to the family and a safe house to the sister and sister in law when set free. If you would like to contribute to this work please (click here)
Shamim Masih, said:
"The deployed police force is too small for any effective protection. The people here are very aware of the attack on Gojra, Shanti Nagar and St Joseph's colony. If a mob of 3000 or more arrives here the villagers would be in great danger and already mosques are preaching hatred. The few residents that have remained here are terrified and place their faith in God. They have not left as they also fear that if they leave on their return their property will be looted. In every blasphemy allegation the whole community is punished for the alleged crimes of one man - this is unjust and debilitating."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
"A personal squabble has yet again turned into a blasphemy allegation and now a Christian family is being persecuted by the statutory police force, by laws which by design are a tool for discrimination. The illegal arrest of family members of an accused man is a pathetic mechanism of duress, that is routinely ignored by Pakistan authorities."
"The draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan are a blight on the reputation of Pakistan, but one that the Muslim majority continue to endorse despite significant evidence of abuse. This illustrates the low worth placed upon Christians and other minorities in an increasingly hardline Pakistan."
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Image of City Division Police Station Sara-e Alamghir
Shamim Masih and friend spoke to local resident Arif Masih
A locked empty home.
Another locked home