By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Khuram Shahzad, also known as Khuram Masih, a Christian accused of blasphemy, was granted bail on October 22 by Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, a judge of the Lahore High Court, who ordered his release against the payment of bail amounting to 100,000 rupees (US$ 1,000).
According to lawyers of the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), which followed this case, the 24-year-old man "was physically worn out but overjoyed that he survived.
"He has not stopped thanking God for allowing justice to triumph. His father and family is very happy to know the order of Court."
Khuram Shahzad (Masih) (Courtesy LEAD).
On its website, http://leadfamily.blogspot.com,
LEAD says that on December 5, 2011, a blasphemy case was registered at Shahdara Town Police Station in Lahore against a young, poor Christian man, Khuram Shahzad, who it was alleged burned pages of The Quran and was arrested the same day and put behind bars.
LEAD says he was physically beaten and tortured by police officials during the custody, defective food was provided to him in the jail premises, and due to these circumstances he had "become the patient of certain complicated diseases like bleeding through urine."
On October 18, there was a trial hearing in the jail and LEAD's lawyers, Aric John and Hadayat Bashir Advocate High Court with National Director LEAD and President PCC, Advocate Sardar Mushtaq M.Gill, appeared in the jail for the hearing and submitted an application regarding the medical examination and treatment of their client. Masih was accused of blasphemy under section 295 B PPC, which was accepted by the trial court and the next date of trial was fixed for October 31, 2012.
Lawyers of the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) followed this case and filed a petition for bail in the session court in Lahore. This was dismissed on January 3, by Judge Anjum Raza. A second bail request was filed in Lahore High Court in which Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, a judge of the High Court, ordered and gave direction of conclusion of trial within three months.
After nearly seven months, on August 8, again lawyers of the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) filed a bail petition in the same court of Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, a judge of the High Court, who granted bail and passed an order for Masih's release against the payment of 100,000 rupees (around US$ 1,000). Masih had been imprisoned nearly 11 months in the jail premises.
The president PCC and National Director of LEAD Advocate Sardar Mushtaq M.Gill, urged the Pakistani Government to "take some strong measures against the abuses of blasphemy laws against the Christians in Pakistan."
He also requested a judicial policy that those accused of blasphemy laws be granted bail until the final disposal of the case and it should be made a statutory right of the accused in such religious offences and those accused of blasphemy.
LEAD stated: "The fight for the Christian Rights and against the blasphemy laws will be continued within our limited resources so long as we are alive."
LEAD says on its webpage that it is a non-profit and non-Government organization. It is a Christian 'Faith based' inter-denominational organization, "raising a voice for fundamental rights and defending and supporting the persecuted."
It also "encourages and facilitates Christians in the pursuing a vocation in different professions by the integration of a Biblical faith with contemporary legal, moral, social, economic and political issues."
LEAD gives free legal aid, and shares the Word of God with prisoners and supports them according to Hebrews 13:3: "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body".