On 21st July 2013, a crippled Christian man, Shafaqat Emmanuel, and his wife, Shagufta Kausar, were arrested in Gojra District for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to local Muslims. Police registered the FIR 407/13 under sections 295-B and 295-C. Complainants Muhmmad Hussain and Anwar Mansoor Goraya, Tehsil Bar Association president, alleged they received the blasphemous text messages from the number registered on Shagufta Kausar’s name.
The Station House Officer (SHO) of Gojra City Police Station, Mr. Muhammad Nasir, said:
“The police had verified that the SIM used to send the blasphemous text messages was registered in Shagufta’s name whereas her husband admitted to use her phone to send the messages to Hussain”
However, Shagufta told the police that they had lost the cell phone a month earlier. She denied the charges but police started 3rd degree torture on Shafaqat Masih, who is crippled and physically challenged. They tortured him in front of his wife and four children. Police forced him to confess to the charges or implicate others. Otherwise, they would start torturing his wife Shagufta. Then Shafaqat admitted that he had sent the messages, whereas when our lawyers visited Shafaqat Emmanuel, he denied the charges and stated:
“There is no man who can stand to see his wife being tortured by police, so to save my wife, I confessed.”
He further told the our legal team that:
“When we lost the phone and the SIM, I visited the nearby mobile shop many times to block our mobile SIM.”
According to our investigation, police confirmed Shafaqat’s statement with the mobile shop. The shop owner says that he came twice to block his SIM card.
Even after knowing the facts -- that the couple had lost their cell phone and SIM card -- police still registered an FIR against the crippled man and his uneducated wife.
Shagufta was working in “St. John Cathedral School” as a maid. She was the only working hand in the family, as Shafaqat Emmanuel was in a wheelchair due to a firearm injury that paralyzed his lower body. The couple has four children – Zain (12), Danish (10), Joshua (8), and Sara (6).
Local Cleric Pressure
According to the police authority, Muslim clerics, local lawyers and a Bar official were so furious that they remained in the police station until the FIR was written. Gojra is a religiously volatile city where a week ago a young Christian man was sentenced to life in prison on the same charges. On July 13th, Sajjad Masih, a Christian, was sent to jail for life for the same sort of text messages case. The city police of Gojra – in association with some fundamentalist Muslims – beat Masih. The case was sent to the court of Mian Shahzad Raza, Additional Session Judge Gojra, for trial. However, Muslims failed to prove the charges against Sajjad Masih. Even then the Additional Session Judge Shahzad Raza sentenced him to life in prison.
Earlier in 2009, radical Muslims set the Christian colony ablaze and eight family members were burned alive. The fire was started from the Korian Village, District Toba Tek Singh and hundreds of houses were turned to ashes there. Many families left their houses and shifted to other areas of the country; some fled from Pakistan.
The area is known as a house of the banned militant organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. It was reported earlier that the local government is backing up this organization.
We have not been able to understand the situation with the Pakistani courts; the text message/SIM is taken as sole evidence against the accused of in the blasphemy case, whereas the DNA test report, which is an authentic proof against rape, is not acceptable according to the Islamic Sharia law.
Role of Christian NGOs and Churches
Christian NGOs and churches played the usual role during the past week. It has been observed that some of the NGO workers have been struggling to generate interest in this case. We hope everyone remembers what happened when the recent incident of Joseph Colony occurred in Lahore. Every man working on persecution was fighting for Sawan Masih. It has even been said that one well-known activist has paid huge money to get pictures with Sawan Masih and his family. This has become a practice of many Christian NGOs in such cases instead of working together to help these persecuted Christians.
Since 21st July, 2013 our team has been working on the ground with the family. We have observed that instead of doing something, the Church is again silent. Protestant, and Evangelical Bishops receive billions of dollars from their sister churches and Christian organizations, but they spend those funds for their self-promotions and luxurious lifestyles. Pakistani Bishops have luxury homes in the U.K., France, the U.S., and Denmark, whereas the communities for whom these donations are received are living in the slum areas. Even non-profit organizations – NGOs funded for charitable programs – spend millions of rupees for their personal promotions and for luxuries rather than doing something for the victims.
We felt the need to write something about the role of the cruelties of one greedy, religious leader in particular, but for some reason, our team working on the ground stopped us from doing so at this stage. We will soon uncover the story behind the closed doors and how our leaders play with such persecuted victims.
Our team is defending the persecuted couple and has already given shelter to the four children and their grandfather, Emmanuel Masih. We hope that soon we will be able to get justice for this persecuted couple.
We request you again please keep the couple and their children in your prayers.
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