SC urged to act against clerics whose incitement led to couple’s lynching

Relatives and friends mourn the death of the Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan— AFP/file

 

ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of the Nov 6 incident in which a mob lynched a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab, for allegedly committing blasphemy, the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference (PCBC) and the Major Superiors Leadership Conference of Pakistan (MSLCP) have requested the Supreme Court to hold accountable for the killings the clerics who had incited violence through loudspeakers of their mosques.

In a joint letter addressed to Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, president of the PCBC, Karachi, Joseph Coutts, and president of the MSLCP, Lahore, Fr Pascal Paulus OP, have called for a fair investigation into the incident so that perpetrators of the crime could be brought to justice and a strong precedence could be created for the future.

Read| Christian couple beaten to death for 'desecrating Quran': police

A copy of the letter sent to the court on Nov 12 was dispatched to Islamabad offices of the United Nations Council on Human Rights.

Taking notice of the gruesome case, the chief justice had sought updates on an inquiry into the incident being carried out by Punjab government and the Provincial Police Officer.

The two-page letter expressed the confidence that the apex court would give serious consideration to the tragic incident in order to stop recurrence of such incidents.

It said that all those involved, either by virtue of committing the crime or by inciting violence in the name of religion, should be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Also read: 50 villagers held over burning of Christian couple to death

The letter said the brutal killings and burning of the Christian couple working as bonded labourers at a brick kiln was a grim reminder that intolerance in the name of religion had “escalated beyond the rule of law in Pakistan”.

“The situation has now reached beyond the application of laws for justice, where crowds and police are repeatedly setting precedents for street justice and are thus violating the Constitution and the Penal Code of Pakistan,” the letter said.

“Such incidents reflect lack of governance, failure of civil administration to implement its writ and presence of loopholes in the judicial system that invariably allows such crimes against humanity to go unpunished,” the letter said.

“While the government’s response is appreciated, there are still serious measures that need to be taken in order to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future because they damage the very social fabric of the nation besides threatening and challenging the writ of the government,” the letter said.

Also read: Tracing footsteps in Kot Radha Kishan

It urged the government to immediately take measures to stop misuse of the blasphemy law by adopting the recommendations of the Gojra Commission of 2009, which had suggested provision in the relevant laws for the same punishment for the complainant if he/she failed to prove his/her allegations.

Similarly, the letter said, the government should take measures to control incidents of mob violence by training and sensitising the police force by holding them accountable for any negligence on their part.

The letter also said the government should be asked to implement the June 19 judgment of the Supreme Court in which it had issued a set of guidelines for the authorities to promote religious and social tolerance and to protect religious minorities in the country.

The World Human Rights International, Thailand, has also sent a letter to the Supreme Court, requesting it to order registration of a case under Section 295 of the PPC against 600 people, who were responsible for the death of the Christian couple.

The District Police Officer of Kasur, Jawwad Qamar, in a report about the incident, admitted that police had failed to get victims freed from the mob’s clutches.

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