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Tuesday, October 03, 2023  
16 Rabi ul Awal 1445  

Chinese national accused of blasphemy sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand

Court directs Haripur police to beef up security of accused with assistance of DPO Hairpur
Workers of Dasu dam construction project during the protest on April 16, 2023. Photo via author
Workers of Dasu dam construction project during the protest on April 16, 2023. Photo via author

An anti-terrorism court in Abbottabad sent on Monday a Chinese supervisor at the Dasu dam construction project to jail on a 14-day judicial remand over blasphemy allegations.

“The accused under police custody is sent to jail on judicial remand. He should be presented before the court on May 05, 2023,” said the order issued by the judge of ATC, Hazara Division Abbottabad.

A written complaint filed with the police identified the accused as a heavy transport supervisor by the name of “Mr Tian” and said that his remarks on Saturday “sparked tensions”.

ATC judge Sajjad Ahmad Khan accorded the request of the investigation officer. “Being a sensitive case of blasphemy there is [an] apprehension of danger to the life of accused, hence, accused is sent to judicial lockup at Central Prison, Haripur for security purposes,” it said and ordered that the accused be produced before this court next month through a video link.

The judge directed the superintendent central prison, Haripur to beef up the security of the accused with the assistance of DPO, Haripur, in “case of need”.

The Chinese national was airlifted to Abbottabad over fears that the man might be attacked after locals protested over the incident on Sunday night. The police arrested the suspect on Monday after which the people dispersed.

Officials said that the transport incharge at the Dasu hydropower project in Upper Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was accused of blasphemy after he highlighted the “slow pace of work” during Ramazan.

“The labourers said they were fasting but denied that work had slowed down, which led to an exchange of heated words” with the supervisor, a police official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “Later, the labourers accused the engineer of making blasphemous remarks” and around 400 locals gathered to protest, he said.

The apparent incident took place on April 15 after Zuhr prayers identified him only as a heavy transport supervisor by the name of “Mr Tian”, and said that his alleged remarks on Saturday “sparked tensions”. Thousands of people were protesting near the CR-9 area of the dam project, it added.

The FIR invoked Section 295 C (use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 6 (terrorism) and 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Upper Kohistan Khatib Maulana Ataur Rehman urge the people on Sunday to remain peaceful as he demanded that the accused must be presented in a court of law.

Maulana Muhammad Tahir told BBC Urdu that the Chinese national allegedly made blasphemous remarks on Friday. There was no protest on the incident initially, but later as the details came out, people started protesting on the issue.

According to the drivers working on the project, the local labourers were on their way to offer Friday prayers when the Chinese official allegedly scolded them and apparently told them that they were wasting time and to come back to work soon.

Labourers claimed that it was written in their contract that they would be given time to pray during duty. The dispute apparently started when the workers returned after offering prayers.

Maulana Tahir claimed that the Chinese incharge communicates with the workers through an interpreter. When the Chinese national left, the interpreter apparently accused the Chinese national of blasphemy, prompting outrage and protests.

The Dasu dam construction contract was awarded to the China Gezhouba Group Company in 2017, and the project is shrouded by tight security.

It is among a number of Chinese firms that have taken on lucrative infrastructure contracts in Pakistan despite the security threats to Chinese nationals.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, though no executions have ever been carried out for the crime.

Earlier this year, a mob lynched a detainee in Nankana Sahib for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

As many as 89 citizens were killed in 1,415 accusations and cases of blasphemy in the country since independence, according to the Centre for Research and Security Studies report released on January 25, 2022.

In December 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob that accused him of blasphemy in Sialkot, Punjab.

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa


Dasu Dam

Chinese engineer

Chinese national arrest

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