An eight-year-old Hindu boy has been charged under the highly controversial and draconian blasphemy law in Pakistan. The child could possibly be staring at the death penalty as the country’s law warrants such a punishment. He is the same boy who was accused of urinating on the carpet of a local Madrasa which gave the reason for Islamists to go after him as well as destroy a Hindu temple, whose videos went viral earlier this month.
According to a Guardian report, the eight-year-old boy is currently in protective custody. His family, following the attack, has gone into hiding, fearing for its life. The surrounding Hindu families have also packed their bags and left the area.
A member of the family told the publication from an undisclosed location, “He is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.”
The family member added, “We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”
Ramesh Kumar, a lawmaker and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said, “The attack on the temple and blasphemy allegations against the eight-year-old minor boy has really shocked me. More than a hundred homes of the Hindu community have been emptied due to fear of attack.”
After the attack on the temple, India had summoned Pakistan’s Top diplomat — Pakistani chargé d’affaires (C’dA) in Delhi and lodged a strong protest. Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs had remarked, “firm protest was lodged expressing grave concerns at this reprehensible incident” and the “continued attacks on the freedom of religion of the minority community and their places of religious worship”.
It is pertinent to note that, recently, a Ganesh temple in Pakistan’s Rahim Yar Khan area was ransacked by a blood-hungry, deranged Islamist mob in broad daylight, with no intervention from the local authorities. What made the entire incident a ‘chilling case of majority bulldozing the minority’ was the fact that it was broadcasted unashamedly on Facebook with sacred idols of Hindu Gods being smashed and desecrated, caught on camera.
While damaging the Hindu temples and conducting an exodus of Hindu families is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan, it is indeed surprising that the Islamists are willing to hang an eight-year-old boy to strengthen their religious beliefs.
This is not the first time that blasphemy law has been used to settle scores against the minority populace. As reported by TFI earlier, two Christian brothers in Pakistan were sentenced to death after they were charged with the Blasphemy laws in 2018. The accused brothers had been convicted for “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet”, under the archaic blasphemy provisions of Pakistan’s penal code.
Last year, Khwaja Asif, a leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had found himself in hot soup as Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had filed a blasphemy case against him for stating, ‘no religion is superior to the other’.
In June 2020, Sajid Soomro, a Pakistani professor of Sindhi literature at Khairpur’s Shah Abdul Latif University in Sindh province, was arrested on Blasphemy charges by the Police. The professor is known to Pakistani authorities for his dissenting views and criticisms of the country’s most powerful clerics.
However, it was the Asia Bibi case that invited significant attention towards Pakistan’s draconian law. In 2010, Asia was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. However, after an international outcry, she was acquitted of the said crime. Since 2011, a total of around 100 blasphemy cases have been registered. Moreover, around 40 people are waiting for the death sentences to be executed or are serving imprisonment for life.
The Islamization of Pakistan, in its true sense, began with the Zia Ul Haq regime, which was one of the most active in pushing Pakistan towards intense radicalism, by following the object of creating a Nizam-e-Mustafa, that is, “Rule of Prophet”.
Zia Ul Haq even institutionalized the inclusion of Islamists in the judicial setup of Pakistan. Draconian laws based on promoting Islamisation of Pakistan such as the blasphemy law and several other misogynistic laws were enacted. His legacy remains unchallenged by the subsequent civilian governments and hence Pakistan, which had started off as an Islamic Republic has now radicalized itself into a Sharia law State.