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Hindu boy of 8 years becomes youngest ever blasphemy arrest and faces potential 10 year sentence


A Hindu enclave in a village called Bhong, was attacked and warned of more severe attacks by a mob of Muslims incensed by allegations that an 8 year old child had urinated in a Muslim cemetery.

Around 10 am, on 24th July,  Bhavish Kumar Meghwar a young Hindu child accidentally entered the grounds of Dar-Ul-Aloom Arabia Taleem Ul-Quran Bhong Sharif, which is a madrassa (seminary of Islam). The Imam responsible for the madrassa, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim noticed the young Hindu boy in the yard and started abusing and reprimanding him as he set out to grab the terrified child. Totally confused and afraid, the boy urinated through fear and managed to outrun a full grown man through a burst of adrenaline.

The next morning, however (25th July) Hafiz Ibrahim visited Bhong Police station and lodged an application for the arrest of Bhavish Meghwar. In order to appease the Imam and a mob he had brought to the police station, officers of the law decided to register a First Information Report (FIR) under the grounds of blasphemy quoting the notorious Section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code.  Though it is not lawful in Pakistan to prosecute a minor of only 8 years, police officers used 'their initiative' and registered the crime against an unknown.   

295-A. Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs:
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the 'religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.
Only two days later (27th July), brave burly policemen arrested the absolutely hysterical 8 year old and took him into their custody, until he was produced in court on 4th August 2021.  

A horrified  Bhavish was produced at Bhong District court on 4th August but his dishevelled state and frailty resonated to some extent with presiding judge, who accepted the Hindu families bail appeal.  This was despite the throng and clamour for the death of young Bhavish outside the court.  As soon as the judge ushered the words ordering bail for Bhavish a social media campaign led by Cleric Razaq Soomro began and spread like wildfire.  The campaign called for action and soon a furious mob of around 100 Muslim men arrived at Bhavish's village and hurled sticks and rods while voicing anti-Hindu slogans.  It is not understood why the judge did not dismiss the blasphemy case based on the young age of Bhavish but assumed this was due to fear of the mob outside the court.

As news of the rioters impending arrival made it to the Hindu enclave shops were forced to close and residents ran to the safety of their homes.  Though several calls were made to local police no burly officers arrived to give the Hindu community any support. 

The agitated mob entered into Ghanesh Temple and began breaking and destroying religious statues, walls, electric fittings equipment and
everything they came across. Their hatred not satiated the mob than set alight the temple causing further damage. Videos of attack went viral and a combined security force including the police and army were deployed to disperse the furious mob.

The Hindu community of the area is still in fear and many of the families have fled to nearby relatives. Bhavish Kumar and his family have been provided safety at a hidden location by local security agencies.

On 5th of August, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Gulzar Ahmad directed the police to arrest all involved in attack. He also ordered the removal from post of the Station House Officer (SHO) of Bhong Police Station, for his incompetency in allowing the station to file an underage blasphemy case.

An FIR has been registered under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. Through video analysis 90 people connected to the attack have been arrested. All the arrested have been produced before the court and for physical remand.

The temple has been restored and is ready to worship told Asad Sarfraz, District Police Officer of Rahim Yaar Khan. The Government has directly engaged workers to restore and remake the religious statues in the temple.

British Asian Christian Association officers will be reaching the Hindu community of Rahim Yaar Khan tomorrow and will be offering support and help and will also be praying with those willing to accept the gift of prayer. We will also be obtaining first hand accounts of the violence from the community and will be sharing these with our readers.

The Hindu Human Rights Group have organised a protest outside the Pakistan Embassy on Sunday 15th August 2021 at 2pm.  The organisers and are inviting people of all faiths to join them.  British Asian Christian Association were the first group they contacted and we will have a speaker at the event.  You can learn more about the event from the flyer at the end of this post.

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, said:

"Pakistan's reputation has hit an all time low after the arrest of a defenceless 8 year old under blasphemy charges.

"Young Bhavish must have been beside himself when he was wrenched from his family and taken into police custody.

"He will no doubt be scarred by the amount of hatred he has received for simply being a non-Muslim in a nation where intolerance is rife.

"But this is not the end of his dark journey - he still has to be acquitted for a crime he is too young to be prosecuted for.

"It amazes me that Pakistan still has police callous enough to arrest an 8 year old and a Judiciary to limp to exonerate a child immediately.

"But then again, how much has really changed in Pakistan since the assurance of a Nayya (new) Pakistan by Imran Khan when he took control of the nations government?"

Pakistani Christian Rimsha Masih was previously the youngest person to be arrested for a blasphemy, when she was falsely accused of tearing pages of a Koran into pieces at the age of 11 years.  It was later discovered that the Imam who accused her had torn pages of a Koran and burnt them in order to implicate the innocent child (click here)

Pak-Christian Nabeel Masih become Pakistan's youngest ever blasphemy convict at 16 years of age (click here)

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