LAHORE, Pakistan: The civil society has welcomed the court for granting bail to the blasphemy accused Stephen Masih, who has been facing imprisonment in a fabricated case despite being of an unsound mind.
They demanded that all those who incite or engage in violence in the name of religion based on allegations of blasphemy, as well as those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy, be brought to justice and duly punished.
The Chairman of the Voice of Justice Joseph Jansen recalled that it is sad that Police raided Stephen’s home in March 2019, and arrested Stephen for alleged blasphemy accusation without investigation, and tortured his mother leaving her with a fracture in the leg and arm that she has not been able to recover from, and is bedridden since then. It is horrible that a mob, without inquiring about the authenticity of the allegation, set their house on fire, on the provocation of persons with an intention to spread religion-driven hatred, that made family members flee the area and relocate to a safer place.
Joseph Jansen observed that this case is a clear example that blasphemy accusations stem from personal vendettas rather than genuine instances of blasphemy and lead to mob violence against the accused and their families.
Francis Masih recalled that although Stephen remained in the prison for over three years for allegedly committing blasphemy yet, in reality, the accusation was motivated by a dispute over trespassing by a neighbor to Stephen’s home’s terrace to bring his pigeons back to the loft. It is sad that the neighbor leveled fabricated blasphemy charges against Stephen on March 11, 2019 to punish him for using abusive language during an altercation over trespassing. He hoped that bail will allow the family to provide proper care and treatment to Stephen, who is of unsound mind since birth.
Ashiknaz Khokhar remarked that the Punjab Institute of Medical Health has stated in the court that Stephen suffers from Bipolar Affective Disorder, and he is mentally unfit to stand trial, therefore he is destined to get bail for being innocent. He noted that those accused of blasphemy have to face years-long imprisonment with limited opportunity for bail in Pakistan, which is a sad reality.
Farooq Bashir Advocate said that Stephen is mentally retarded by birth, but it is lamentable that none of the neighbors have had the courage to make a statement before the court about his mental condition due to threats associated with the blasphemy accusation, which is an indication that an innocent person who has not committed any blasphemy is implicated in a fabricated case, and fake evidence and witnesses are produced in the honorable courts to settle personal scores misusing the laws relating to the desecration of religion.
Abdul Hameed Rana Advocate said that it is the victory of the truth and justice that Stephen has been granted bail on merit by the honorable court, interpreting the section 466 Cr. P.C that learned Deputy Prosecutor General agreed to. He noted that Stephen has been facing imprisonment for over three years for an alleged offense he has never committed, however, the case against him has loopholes and relies on forgery, and we will continue to fight in the court to get them acquitted of, for being innocent.