A private college teacher and a sufi preacher have been arrested on draconian blasphemy charges in separate incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab province, police said today.
The teacher was arrested in Toba Tek Singh area, about 200 kilometres from Lahore, for allegedly speaking against Islam.
According to a complaint filed by the complainant, his son was beaten by the teacher for absenting from Quaid-i-Azam School and College of Science and Commerce for a day, police said.
The teacher asked the boy why he had absented himself, and when the boy said he missed the college for “personal reasons” the teacher beat him and also allegedly spoke against Islam, according to an FIR registered under section 295A of Pakistan Penal Code.
The student informed his family about the incident and they – along with a number of local people – demonstrated against the teacher outside the school and later marched towards the police station.
The teacher was arrested from his house in the area.
In another incident in the province, a sufi preacher was arrested on blasphemy charges in Daska district for allegedly denying Islamic beliefs and articles of faith.
The complainant claimed to have provided the recording of his “utterances” to police, Dawn reported.
The report said the man was arrested after local people resorted to protest.
Both the persons face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, which introduced the draconian laws in 1985 in a bid to appease right-wing parties. These laws have often been alleged to have been misused to settle personal scores.
On Thursday, two seminary students have been arrested in the province under the controversial blasphemy laws.
Militants also target people blamed for blasphemy or those demanding changes to them. Punjab’s liberal governor Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 when he termed the regulations “black law” after visiting Christian woman Aasia Bibi, who is on death row, in a jail in Lahore.