New Delhi: Indian Human Rights and Freedom of Faith activist John Dayal has urged the Pakistan government to release ailing Aisa Bibi, facing a death sentence and in jail since 2009 under the notorious Blasphemy laws.
Dayal, who had met High Commissioner of Pakistan Abdul Basit in New Delhi recent, pleaded the Islamabad government to allow the Christian woman to come to India where local groups have volunteered to take care of her urgent medical condition.
In a letter to the High Commissioner, Dayal, who is the secretary general of the All Indian Christian Union, also expressed the shock of the Indian Christians at the brutal torture and burning alive of a bonded labor couple, Shahzad and Shama Masih, near Lahore two weeks ago.
The human rights activists pointed out that in more than 300 cases under the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, more than 250 have been filed against various Muslim sects, including Shias and Ahmedias. Most victims are targeted under absolutely false charges to settle local scores, or to terrorize religious minorities, specially the tiny Christian community in the country, Dayal’s letter noted.
He said Christian groups in India have offered to take care of Aisa Bibi, who is ill, and her family. “We in India will be very happy to take care of her medical needs and of her family if she is allowed to come to India. We therefore appeal to you to impress on the Government if Pakistan to set Aisa Bibi free and to allow her and her family to travel to India.”
According to Dayal, a veteran journalist, Aisa Bibi’s is “a test case of miscarriage of justice under political pressure.’ Fundamentalist groups, he added, have threatened the members of the court and her defense team.
Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009, and sentenced to death by a lower court in November 2010. Since then, she has been in solitary confinement for security reasons, and has become a symbol of the struggle against the blasphemy law. Human rights groups have described her case as symptomatic of the deeply rooted problems of prejudice, inefficiency, corruption, and under-resourcing, which are amplified in blasphemy cases, especially for Christians and other religious minorities, Dayal’s letter said.
He ended the letter appealing the government to repeal the Blasphemy Laws, which, he said, have brought tragedy and pain to innocent people of Pakistan.