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Release Asia Bibi, Indian rights activists urge Pak

PTI 14 Nov 2014, 17:33:08 PM IST

New Delhi: Indian human rights activists and Christian groups have appealed to Pakistan to release Asia Bibi, the woman who is on the death row in the country after being convicted for blasphemy.

Dr John Dayal, a member of National Monitoring Committee for Minority Education, met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit here and urged that Bibi should be allowed to come to India, where local groups have volunteered to take care of her.

“Christian groups 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. We appeal to you to impress upon the government of Pakistan to set her free and to allow her and her family to travel to India,” Dayal said in a letter which he handed to Basit.

A Pakistan court in October upheld the death penalty on Bibi, who was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 in a case that triggered global furore over the controversial law. Bibi, a Christian and a mother of five, was arrested in 2009 under blasphemy charges.

Dayal, an Indian human rights and freedom of faith activist, also expressed shock over the recent incident in which a Christian couple was burnt alive near Lahore on claims that they had desecrated the Quran.  “The brutal murder of Shahzad and Shama Masih... is a case of impunity as it took place in the presence of police and on the orders of a local panchayat.

“Media in Pakistan have reported how mobs were mobilised to gather at a brick kiln, and how the couple were beaten, tortured and then burnt to death,” Dayal said in his letter.  These two cases, Dayal said, have shocked the world and disturbed the global Christian community.  “We in India are particularly concerned as we campaign for the full protection of religious minorities in India— especially Muslims—and their constitutional and democratic rights. We are also against capital punishment,” the letter added.

Dayal called upon the Pakistani government to ensure punishment for those guilty of lynching the couple so that a strong message is sent out about its commitment to preventing violence against religious minorities