Sikh turban case: 5 men granted bail

Lahore, May 4: Five of the six men arrested under Pakistan's tough blasphemy law for throwing a Sikh man's turban to the ground during a scuffle in Punjab Province have been granted bail after police declared them "innocent".

The police also warned Mahinder Paal Singh against raising the matter before the top authorities as a blasphemy case could also be registered against him.


A civil judge of Chichawatni, some 300 kilometres from Lahore, yesterday granted to bail Rashid Gujjar, Baqir Ali, Faiz Alam, Shakeel and Snawal in the blasphemy case.

"During a day in police custody we interrogated the suspects but did not find that they had committed blasphemy. It was just a brawl and during the fight Singh's turban fell to the ground," Khaizer Hayat, Chichawatni city police in-charge, said.

"We have declared the suspects innocent in the challan we submitted in the court," he said, adding that police had inserted the blasphemy section (295 of Pakistan Penal Code) at the insistence of Singh. "We could have registered a blasphemy case against Mr Singh as he had claimed that insulting of Sikh turban is tantamount to insulting the Prophet.

"He (Mahinder Singh) is lucky that the suspects did not press for registration of the FIR for committing blasphemy," Hayat said. He further said section 295 was a bailable offence. To a question that Singh is pressing for 295/A which deals with non-bailable offence with maximum penalty of 10-year imprisonment, Hayat said, "It is in fact not a case of blasphemy.

It is a case quarrel between two groups and the matter should be resolved amicably. Otherwise there will an FIR and counter FIR on blasphemy allegations." Police last Sunday registered an FIR under sections 295 (blasphemy), 506 (hurling threats) and 148 of Pakistan Penal Code against the six suspects under blasphemy law on the complaint of Singh, a resident of Multan district of Punjab, some 350 kilometers from Lahore.

Singh told police that he was travelling from Faisalabad to Multan by a bus that developed a fault on the way.

The driver fixed the fault but its speed was very slow and it took passengers five hours to get Chichawatni bus terminal where he and other passengers complained to the staff of the transport company and demanded an alternative vehicle for the journey to Multan.

"The arguments over issue led a scuffle between the company's staff and the passengers. During the fight a bus terminal hawker, Rashid Gujjar, threw my turban on the ground and others manhandled me. Turban is considered sacred in the Sikh religious code and throwing it on the ground is tantamount to desecration," Singh had said.


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