Karachi: House ransacked, furniture torched: Teenage Christian boy booked for blasphemy
KARACHI: With the case of Rimsha Masih still grabbing the headlines, another case of blasphemy was reported to police on Wednesday, this time not in a slum but in a middle-class neighbourhood of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, after the house of the accused boy belonging to a religious minority community was ransacked and furniture was set on fire in a violent protest. The teenage Christian boy has been accused of sending text messages containing ‘blasphemous’ content to his area residents without reading it. The incident took place in the staff colony of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) located at the junction of University Road and Abul Hasan Ispahani Road.
Police said that the boy was accused by the residents that he had sent text messages containing blasphemous content to the staffers and officers of the SSGC present at the residential-cum-office compound.
As the SMS reportedly circulated among the residents of the colony comprising workers and officers, they eventually attacked the residential quarter of Ryan Stanten, 16, and his mother, Rubina Bryan, on Wednesday, police said. Ms Bryan worked as a superintendent at the SSGC, they added.
The SMS had been sent on Tuesday night.
However, apparently after realising the gravity of the situation the family had abandoned the house, said a senior police officer of the area.
“Had they not left the house, the situation could have been really bad,” the officer observed.
On Wednesday, the enraged people ransacked the house and set fire to the household articles, including the bed, washing machine and fridge, after bringing them out on to the main University Road.
The protesters also raised slogans against the family.
The SMS was passed on by the accused teenager by his own cellphone on Tuesday. After receiving it, some people had gone to the boy asking him about it, he told them that he had forwarded the SMS after receiving it, said DIG (east) Shahid Hayat while speaking to Dawn.
“Ryan told complainant Khursheed Alam and Pesh Imam Qari Ghulam Qadir of the SSGC Jamia Mosque that someone sent him this SMS and he forwarded it to all Muslim friends without reading it,” said the DIG.
The official in charge of the SSGC security, an ex-serviceman, kept handling the situation, the police officer added.
After the mayhem, police reached the scene and tried to appease the protesters assuring them that police would register the case.
“We reached the scene and talked sense to some clerics who were leading the protest,” said a police officer of the area. The violent protest caused a severe traffic jam on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road and University Road.
A case (FIR No 432/2012) under Section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks, etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 25 of the Telegraph Act was later registered at the Mobina Town police station.
A duty officer of the police station said the FIR was registered against Ryan Stanten, son of Ms Bryan, a resident of SSGC staff colony on a complaint of SSGC chief manager Khursheed Alam.
Describing the trend as very dangerous, in which the Christians were also being targeted, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chief Zohra Yousaf said that people had become very scared.
“At least 22 blasphemy cases have been reported in the country this year alone, in which Muslim accused are more in number compared to the Christians,” said the HRCP chief.
Referring to a Sept 21 incident that took place in Hyderabad, Ms Yousaf said some people had lodged a blasphemy case against a trader who had not closed his shop on the day of protest.
Earlier in August, a 14-year-old Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, had been accused of blasphemy by a cleric in a suburban neighbourhood of Islamabad. She was finally released by a court and had to be airlifted to an undisclosed location for security reasons.