LAHORE: The attack on 8th March 2013 is so far the largest anti-Christian violence ever erupted in Pakistan over the alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad. Under the influence of alcohol, Sawan Masih and Imran Shahid two close friends entered into a quarrel where the latter alleged that the former insulted Prophet Muhammad. An aftermath soon followed at Joseph colony in Badami Bagh area, Lahore with about 3000 armed protesters burning over 150 houses of residents to ashes.
The Blasphemy law, enacted under Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code is punishable by life imprisonment or even death in Pakistan. An accusation under the said law gets a person arrested without any provisions of punishment for the false accuser or witness. Dilawar Masih, one of the victims of the attack was stated as saying, “Imran made the allegation to settle a personal score with Sawan over some petty matter. The attackers burned our houses even after the accused had been arrested.” A clash ensued between police and the arsonists with loads being injured but no casualty having been reported. Following the incident hundreds of Christians were displaced. Reportedly, Sawan Masih received a death sentence by a court in 2014.
Initially 1000 Muslims were booked but later 115 suspects were arrested and booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act, attempted murder, robbery and arson for setting ablaze the homes of Christians in Badami Bagh area. However an anti-terrorism court headed by Judge Chaudhry Muhammad Azam ordered the acquittal of the suspects, observing insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution.
Source: The New Indian Express