Pak police arrest Muslim student accused of blasphemy

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Karachi, Jan 30 (PTI) Pakistani police in the portcity of Karachi have arrested a Muslim student under thecountry''s controversial blasphemy law for allegedly writingderogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed in his examinationanswer sheets.

Muhammad Samiullah, an intermediate student, wasarrested on Friday following a complaint from the ChiefController of the Intermediate Board, who accused him ofblasphemy. A case of blasphemy was registered against him atthe Shahrah-e-Noor Jahan police station.

"We got a complaint from the intermediate board thatthis student had violated the blasphemy law by writingderogatory remarks on his examination papers," SSP NazimabadZafar Iqbal confirmed.

"We raided the house of the student and arrested himfrom Malir Halt. He has confessed he did write the derogatoryremarks. He claims he did this after being instigated by twoof his cousins who had come to Karachi for a visit from OsloNorway," the police official said.

He said since the cousins had already left thecountry and returned to Oslo their was nothing the Pakistanipolice could do against them.

The Chief Controller alleged that Samiullah, aresident of Mujtaba Colony in Malir Halt, violated theblasphemy law by writing "unacceptable remarks" againstProphet Mohammed in his answer sheets for three subjects.

Police obtained all of Samiullah''s answer sheetsbefore taking him into custody. A challan or charge-sheet waspresented in court and Samiullah was sent to custody.

Samiullah also wrote a letter in which he admittedcommitting the mistake and sought forgiveness, Iqbal said.

Qudrat Sher Lodhi, an investigation officer for thecase, told the Daily Times newspaper that Samiullah had toldpolice that he was "brainwashed" by his cousins from Norway.

Lodhi said Samiullah had no physical or mental illnessand that further investigation was underway.

The controversial blasphemy law has been at the centreof a heated debate since last year, with liberals and rightsactivists claiming that it is misused to settle personalscores and persecute minorities.

Arrests and registration of cases under theblasphemy law have become more frequently in recent monthswith many Pakistani muslims being booked under the law besidesminorities.

Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was gunned down earlierthis month by a police guard who was angered by thepolitician''s opposition to the blasphemy law.

The law has divided the nation with hardlinereligious and politico-religious parties all rallying for anyamendments in the law.

The religious parties have held regulardemonstrations and protests warning the government to stayclear of trying to amend the law which civil and human rightgroups says is generally misused in the country.

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