Islamabad: In a new twist to the blasphemy case involving a minor Christian girl, an imam in the Pakistani capital was arrested and remanded to 14-day judicial custody for allegedly planting pages of the Quran in her bag and using it to implicate her under the controversial law.
Khalid Chishti, the prayer leader of Jamia Aminia mosque in the low-income Mehria Jaffar neighbourhood, was arrested Saturday night after a man testified that he had seen the cleric stuffing pages of the Quran in the bag of the girl Rimsha Masih.
The witness, Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, recorded a statement against the cleric before a magistrate. Police subsequently arrested Chishti. He was then sent to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for 14 days. Police said they expected Chishti to be charged under the controversial blasphemy law.
Zubair said, “When the bag was brought to the mosque, there was nothing in it. When he (Chishti) was given the bag, he went into the mosque and pulled out two or three pages and added them to the bag. I told him what he was doing was wrong. He told me it is evidence against the Christians and a way to get them removed (from the area).”
The incident had occurred while Zubair and some other men were in ‘aitekaf’ (seclusion) in the mosque during Ramzan. Zubair said a neighbour of Rimsha named Malik Ammad, the complainant in the case, handed over the bag with the pages of the Quran to the police.
Chishti had acknowledged in an interview last week that he had, recently called for the eviction of all Christians from the neighbourhood if they did not stop their prayer services because “Pakistan is an Islamic country given by Allah.” Rimsha was arrested on August 16. She is currently being held at Adiala Jail. Her bail hearing is scheduled for Monday.