LAHORE, Pakistan: Human rights activists have voiced their grave concerns over the misuse of blasphemy laws for targeting innocent persons, and expressed their apprehensions regarding the trend of mob violence under the guise of accusation of blasphemy.
They demanded immediate release of and justice for Ashok Kumar, and called upon the government to bring real perpetrators to justice.
In a statement, a member of the National Commission for Minorities Jaipal Das Chhabria appreciated the Sindh police and Rangers for saving Ashok Kumar from mob violence, and lamented that an FIR No.70/2022 under section 295-B of PPP (defiling of the Holy Quran) has been lodged against an innocent person under the pressure of religious forces.
The Chairperson of Voice for Justice Joseph Jansen stated that it is evident that mostly false accusations of blasphemy against religious minorities are made to settle personal vendettas, property disputes, or business rivalries, as witnessed in the case of Ashok Kumar, a sanitary worker from Hindu community.
Joseph Jansen added that the presence of blasphemy laws serves as a firewood plank for some religio-political groups to penetrate their influence in the society, as the slogans like the supremacy of the majority religion, and the respect and dignity of the religious personalities serve as the pivot for their politics to thrive, so the status-quo coupled with inaction on part of government authorities to address misuse of religion for vested interested, is destined to be maintained.
A human rights activist Ashiknaz Khokhar said that the rise in the accusation of blasphemy has become a new norm in Pakistan, with guaranteed immunity for the complainant, no matter whether the allegation is based on the facts or falsehood.
Ashiknaz Khokhar added that the government is the least bothered about the upsurge of blasphemy cases in Pakistan, and lacks the political will to introduce substantial reforms in laws dealing with offenses relating to defamation of religion to make them consistent with international human rights laws and standards, and take serious action against the elements involved in spreading intolerance and violence in the name of religion.
Ilyas Samuel stated that it is an injustice to arrest Ashok Kumar knowing the fact that the allegation was based on a personal grudge, and it was a clear misuse of blasphemy laws against him to take revenge and it is very disappointing that the accused is arrested while the complainants and witnesses involved in leveling false allegations against Ashok Kumar faces no consequences and use such accusations to persecute religious minorities.