Hindu Principal May Face Death Penalty For Blasphemy


Photo Credits: Midnight Watcher

A Hindu principal in Pakistan, who owns the school, was accused by students during a class on Saturday of making illegal comments about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. That act spurred widespread riots in Ghotki district after an FIR (First Information Report) was filed against the principal of Sindh Public School and led to dozens of arrests. According to sources, the accused has been shifted to an undisclosed location for security reasons. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty. The biggest problem is that it’s not even clear if the principal actually insulted Muhammad.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say they have been used to persecute minority faiths and unfairly target minorities. The offences relating to religion were first codified by India's British rulers in 1860, and were expanded in 1927. Pakistan inherited these laws when it came into existence after the partition of India in 1947. In 1982, another clause prescribed life imprisonment for "willful" desecration of the Koran, the Muslim holy book. In 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was "death, or imprisonment for life," in that order.

Pakistani media reports say 43 people were charged in connection with the attack. A number of others were charged with rioting and theft, Dawn newspaper reports.

"Alleged accused in a sensitive case of Ghotki is now in the custody of police," Dr Jamil Ahmed, the additional inspector general of the local police force, tweeted.

"Situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours. Fair investigation is being done after confirming facts and justice ensured. Cases against hooligans are being registered and miscreants being nabbed."

Another case was lodged against 150 people — 27 named and 123 unidentified persons — for blocking roads. A third FIR (First Information Report) pertaining to rioting and theft was filed against 23 people, including 11 unidentified persons, over reports that protesters had stolen goods from multiple shops in Shahi Bazar.

The blasphemy laws have been under the spotlight internationally after Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row, was freed from prison earlier this year, following a Supreme Court decision which overturned her conviction. Her release sparked riots, and she was forced to seek safety in another country.

In response to a question regarding the principal of the school, who has been accused of committing blasphemy, AIG Ahmed said that he will be taken to court after the law and order situation has been assessed.

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