In March 2007, an alarming incident unfolded in Kot Abdul Malik district, Sheikhupura, Punjab, Pakistan, shedding light on the dark realities of religious intolerance and injustice. Amanat Masih, a Christian resident and a former candidate for the Village Councilor election, became the victim of a violent mob, accused of blasphemy against the Qur’an. This event not only exposed the vulnerability of religious minorities but also raised questions about the fairness of the legal system in protecting their rights.
Amanat Masih’s Background:
Amanat Masih, employed by the Water and Sanitation Agencies (WASA), had actively participated in the democratic process by contesting the 2006 Village Councilor election. Although he lost the election, his reputation as an upright individual posed a perceived threat to the ruling political party in the local body elections. This background sets the stage for the tragic events that unfolded in March 2007.
The Allegations and the Mob Attack:
In March 2007, Amanat Masih was accused of desecrating the Qur’an by burning its pages on his rooftop. Without any due process, a mob of thousands quickly gathered around his house, dragging him out and subjecting him to a brutal beating with rods and pipes. Shockingly, the police, instead of intervening to protect Amanat, allowed the mob to continue their violent assault.
Torture and Brutality:
Following the mob attack, Amanat Masih was taken to a private location, the farmhouse of a local influential Muslim named Muhammad Virk. Here, he endured further torture, being hung upside down for an hour, while individuals urinated on his face. This horrific incident highlights not only the failure of law enforcement to uphold justice but also the complicity of certain influential figures in perpetuating the violence.
Legal Proceedings and Imprisonment:
Subsequently, Amanat Masih faced legal proceedings, and the additional judge in Sheikhupura sentenced him to 14 years in prison for blasphemy. Challenging this decision, Amanat appealed to the Lahore High Court. After spending three agonizing years behind bars, he was eventually released due to the efforts of a legal team committed to justice.