Police in Gujrat district booked a Christian youth for blasphemy on Monday after one his friends alleged that he had sent him a sacrilegious poem on WhatsApp.
In his complaint with the Saraey-e-Alamgir police station, Yasir Bashir alleged that Nadeem James, a resident of Yaqoob Abad area, had sent him a poem disrespecting Islamic holy figures on WhatsApp.
The police registered a case against James under Sections 295-C and 298-A, and arrested two female members of his family in a raid on his house, as the accused was not present there at the time.
When contacted City Police Station House Officer (SHO) Sanaullah Dhillon denied they had arrested any female relative of James even though the Public Relations Officer of the Gujrat District Police Officer (DPO) confirmed to Pakistan Today that they had taken two females into ‘protective custody’.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Shaukat Masih, the elder brother of James, said that his brother was illiterate and did not know how to use WhatsApp. He said Bashir and James were friends for the past 10 years, adding that Bashir had himself sent the ‘blasphemous’ content from James’ mobile phone at the behest of a local prayer leader, Hafiz Tariq.
According to Shaukat, James is a tailor by profession and has two children aged 10 and eight. He said policemen raided his house and as there was no male present at the time, they took two females, including his wife, to the police station. “The other arrested female is the wife of my elder brother,” he added.
Some local people privy to the matter on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that a blasphemy case had been orchestrated against James at the behest of Hafiz Tariq. They said that local religious leaders were exerting pressure on the police for the arrest of James and had warned of an agitation in case he was not arrested.
Meanwhile, Gujrat DPO Kamran Mumtaz held a meeting with local religious leaders in order to defuse tension in the area and assured them of early arrest of the accused.
Several attempts were made to contact the DPO to know the actual story but he was not available for comments.
Mehar Ateeq, the public relation officer for the DPO, said that more than 200 police officials had been deployed in Yaqoob Abad for security of Christian families and to avoid any untoward happening.
“There is no tension in the area as all the local religious scholars are on board with the police, he claimed, adding raids were being carried out for the arrest of the accused person.