Lahore: Blasphemy charges used to usurp property
LAHORE: Serwar Shahkar, 72, was robbed of property worth Rs10 million in Faisalabad after being accused of blasphemy. But even as police proved the charges false, he has not gotten his property back and those who accused him have imposed a “ban” on his entrance to the market.
According to Sarwar’s son Naved, his father has owned three shops at Madina Market in Bilal Ganj since 1999, which he had rented out at Rs6,000 a month each.
In January, they had a quarrel with the tenants who stole Shahkar’s equipment from his shops. Shahkar filed a complaint for robbery and a tenant Muhammad Afzal sent an application to the city police chief, alleging that he and 10 shopkeepers had met to resolve the matter when Shahkar said “something blasphemous”. Shahkar was summoned for investigation.
The case was referred to a core committee, comprising prominent religious leaders, said former SHO Civil Lines Mian Abid. Committee member Mufti Muhammad Zia Madni said that no one listed as a witness provided enough evidence to establish the allegation. Even applicant Afzal did not bother to appear.
The committee found evidence that property and monetary disputes were the actual bone of contention. “The committee recommended that no action be taken. Shahkar was freed by the police,” Madni said.
FIRs were then registered against the tenants and six other people, including those who had accused him. Shahkar said that while he was in police custody, one of the men involved, Muhammad Ishaq, prepared a fake sales deed according to which the property was sold for Rs2.2 million and Shahkar had received Rs1.7 million as ‘advance’ payment.