The blasphemy case against a minor girl suffering from Down syndrome took a turn on Monday with two key witnesses retracting statements that evidence had been planted against her by a local cleric.
Appearing before the court hearing the bail plea of the cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti, the two witnesses said they had been forced by the police to testify against him. It was based on their testimonies that the court allowed the minor girl to be released on bail after spending nearly three weeks in the high security Adiala Jail. In view of withdrawal of testimonies, the witnesses gave fresh statements on record before the court and the bail hearing was adjourned till Wednesday.
She was arrested on August 20 under the dreaded blasphemy law — which carries a death punishment — for trying to burn sacred text written in Arabic. Another version said she was found carrying some burnt pages of a sacred text. Nearly a fortnight after her arrest — that forced a temporary exodus of Christians living in the slum cluster on the outskirts of Islamabad — a muezzin of the area mosque said the evidence was planted against her by the cleric to create a situation that would force the Christian community to leave the area.
Based on this testimony — supported by two others — she was released on bail on September 8 and relocated to a safe place along with her family in view of the fact that blasphemy accused are always under threat of being killed even after their acquittal.