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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Woman falsely accused of Blasphemy - Police refute breach of law

Message from John Bosco (sic):
I am sharing this sad news with you.

This time woman from Wandu, a village in the Gujranwala is another victim of Blasphemy. A 34-year-old Christian woman was accused of blasphemy on March 1, 2010, in Wandu, a village in the Gujranawala district of Pakistan’s Punjab state, when she refused to sell her cosmetics shop to aspiring Muslim shop owners in the market.

According to details obtained by ANS, Gulzar Kanwal owned a cosmetic shop in the area which was popular with the residents of Wandu and nearby areas as women preferred to go to her shop because she was the only female who had a cosmetic shop in Wandu.

Professional Jealousy ANS has learned that popularity of Kanwal’s business made the local Muslim shopkeepers jealous of her and of late they started making persistent demands on Kanwal to sell her shop to them.

On March 1, 2010, Haji Ahsan, a Muslim shop owner asked Kanwal if she was interested in selling her shop to Muhammad Bashir, one of the Muslim shopkeepers who wanted to buy it, to which Kanwal said she was not interested in selling her shop.

According to Zeeshan, a caseworker of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) Muslim shop owners -- Muhamamd Bashir, Muhammad Hafeez Salman and Maqsood Boota -- gave Kanwal’s comment regarding not selling her shop a religious tinge and accused her of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

As the word got out, hundreds of local Muslims gathered in front of Kanwal’s shop, shouting slogans against the alleged blasphemer. Sohail Johnson, Chief Coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan told our correspondent that the angry mob hurled obscenities at the “blasphemer” and attempted to beat her. Johnson said that the police officials from Wandu police station, which is near the market, came to rescue her.

Johnson quoted, Samiullah Khan, the Station House Officer of the Wandu Police station as saying that the situation would have been out of control if he had not immediately arrived at the scene of incident. According to Johnson all parties were summoned to the police station for an investigation and a police investigation proved Kanwal’s innocence.

ANS has discovered that the police found Kanwal not guilty of making blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad as Haji Ahsan, a Muslim shop owner swore in front of the Station House Officer of the Wandu Police Station that Kanwal did not commit blasphemy but that she had only refused to sell her shop.

Commenting on rising incidence of abuse of Pakistan’s disputed blasphemy laws Sohail Johnson said that local churches and the church-run schools had to be shut as local Christians feared possible violence after Kanwal was accused of committing blasphemy.

Mr. Johnson called for immediate repeal of Pakistan blasphemy laws. “We held talks with local police officials and that helped Wandu from turning into another Gojra,” he said. Gojra is a small town in Punjab province of Pakistan which lately had seen gruesome violence against Christians after rumors had spread that Christians had committed blasphemy.

Johnson added: “The impartial investigation of the police of a blasphemy accusation can help innocent Christians from being killed at the hands of angry Muslim mob. An unbiased police investigation can also help save Christians’ houses from being burnt by outraged Muslims. “The police should discourage miscreants who attempt to get false Police First Information Reports lodged apparently to settle personal scores,” said Johnson.

Stressed and uncertain Kanwal’s brother-in-law, Pastor Mansab told our correspondent that Kanwal was the only breadwinner of the family. “She is stressed and uncertain about her future as she cannot imagine reopening her shop because of death threats that have been directed at her after she was accused of committing blasphemy,” said Mansab. Mansab further told our correspondent that about two years ago Muhammad Bashir had collected 50 Pakistani Rupees (0.589 US$) from each shopkeeper to pump out the rain water. Mansab alleged that Bashir neither pumped out the rain water or did not give the money back to the shopkeepers.

Muhammad Bashir, he said, had then misbehaved with Kanwal, who went along with other shopkeepers to claim her money back. “He (Muhammad Bashir) passed indecent remarks against Kanwal prompting her to hurl shoe at Bashir,” said Mansab recalling a dispute between Kanwal and Muhammad Bashir two years ago.

According to Mansab, Bashir had since not forgiven Kanwal and had rather been badgering her under one pretext or another.

Police say situation is under control Talking to ANS correspondent by phone, Samiullah Khan, the Station House Officer of Wandu Police Station said that it was a minor dispute between two shopkeepers. He said he did not lodge First Information Report after arriving at the conclusion during the investigation that Muhammad Bashir was trying to falsely implicate Kanwal in a blasphemy case.

Asked if the police could help avert violence against weaker segments of society including the Christians of Pakistan if they carry out investigation impartially, Khan said it was duty of the police to carry out investigation in an unbiased manner “as it would definitely help promote culture of inter-faith harmony in Pakistan.”

When our correspondent asked him what was the current situation in the village, vis-à-vis Christians, he said normalcy had returned to the area. Some 400 Christian families are residing in Wandu village.

Mansab disputed Samiullah Khan’s claim that calm had returned to the area saying that the Christians of the area were still living in “fear and insecurity.” He disclosed that Muslims had also attempted to attack two churches but the police dispersed them. Mansab told our correspondent that the local Muslims have been threatening to kill Kanwal since the occurrence of the incident.

Pastor Sushens of the Full Gospel Assembly Church in Wandu appreciated the role the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan played in Kanwal’s case. He also commended Samiullah Khan, the Station House Officer of the Wandu Police Station, for carrying out unprejudiced investigation. Sushens said that the incident had sent a wave of fear among the local Christians and did not rule out possible violence Courtesy by

Dear all, Please pray for her life and the innocent people surrounded in her family.

1. Find the quick solutions to modify the Blasphemy law through which many people have died or under the dread of death?

2. When the Blasphemy Law will be repelled? Could Govt of Pakistan give us the exact date of its dismissal?

3. Why not the real culprits who violated the law by giving the false statements were not charged?

4. Is this possible for Gulzar Kanwal to open her shop again? If yes, who will give the surety and security of her life?

5. Severe punishment is the answer to the people who settle their personal dispute? However the question is who is going to punish?

6. Why the bail is granted to the people who play the dirty game with the lives of innocent people?
Your brother:

John Bosco

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