Pakistani police have booked six men under the country’s controversial blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating the turban of a Sikh man during a scuffle that broke out when he complained about inconvenience he faced during a bus journey.
The police in Chichawatni city of Punjab province acted against five employees of a transport company and the owner of a bus terminal Mahinder Paal Singh, 29, filed a complaint, according to a report in the Dawn newspaper on Monday.
Singh, a resident of Multan, said he was travelling from Faisalabad to Multan by a bus owned by Kohistan-Faisal Movers when it broke down. Though the driver started the bus again, its speed was very slow and it took five hours to travel the short distance between Dijkot and Chichawatni terminal.
At the terminal, Singh and some other passengers complained to the transport company’s staff about the slow speed of the bus and demanded a different vehicle for the rest of the journey.
This resulted in a scuffle, during which five employees of the transport company and the terminal owner allegedly manhandled the passengers, including Singh.
Singh alleged that a bus terminal hawker threw his turban on the ground. He added the turban is considered sacred in the Sikh religious code and throwing it on the ground amounted to “desecration”.
He also told policemen after the incident that the attackers “should be booked under the blasphemy law” since it was a case of desecration.
Police official Khaizer Hayat was quoted as saying said the men who attacked Singh had been booked under sections 295, 148 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Five men had been arrested and police are conducting raids to arrest the terminal owner, Haji Riyasat.
Singh alleged some local politicians were backing the suspects and influencing the investigations. He appealed to Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to ensure justice is done.