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Christian Blasphemy Suspect in Pakistan Jumps from Building to Escape Torture

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Supporters of Pakistani civil society groups protest in favor of the Christian community in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 26, 2018. An official said Sajid Masih, a Christian blasphemy suspect, who suffered serious injuries after jumping off a federal building, is now in stable condition. VOA
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Authorities in Pakistan are investigating reports that a Christian blasphemy suspect jumped from a four-story building and suffered serious injuries to escape torture in custody.

Officials and doctors say Sajid Masih is recovering from his “fractured legs and jaw” in a hospital in Lahore where the incident took place on Friday.

Masih and one of his cousins were taken into custody for allegedly posting anti-Islam content on Facebook. They were being probed by cybercrime experts of the Federal Investigation Agency, or FIA, at its main office in the eastern Pakistani city when Masih jumped from the fourth floor of the building.

FIA officials denied charges the man was being tortured or abused, saying “no one had even touched” him. They insisted Masih panicked after “he was asked to unlock his cell phone” for screening.

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In a video message circulated and shared via social media, Masih has accused several FIA officers of “severely” torturing him and snatching his cell phone in the process. Pixabay

He alleged the officers were coercing him and his cousin into sexually assaulting one another before he decided to jump from the window.

Dozens of Pakistani human rights groups and activists strongly condemned the incident in a joint statement Monday. They raised serious concerns over persistent misuse of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, specifically against Christian and other religious minorities.

“The law enforcement authorities have not only failed in their duty to protect minorities but have actively participated in violence against them,” the statement said.

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The groups called for an independent inquiry into the incident, rejecting the FIA’s ongoing internal probe as unacceptable. Wikimedia Commons

 

They also demanded that area police withdraw the case of attempted suicide against Masih. Activists say they suspect the police case was meant to cover up and protect FIA officers who made the Christian community member jump off the building.

Insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammad are extremely sensitive issues in Pakistan and can carry the death penalty, although no one has been executed under the blasphemy laws. Right groups say the laws are often misused or exploited to settle personal disputes.

ALSO READ: Pakistan’s handling of Balochistan is reminiscent of its step brotherly treatment to East Pakistan

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Mere allegations of blasphemy have provoked mob lynchings of suspects or their targeted killings in Pakistan. Pixabay

In Monday’s joint statement, activists have also demanded authorities take immediate steps for safety and protection of Masih and his relatives.

Last year,23-year-old university student Mashal Khan was beaten to death by fellow students and others at the campus, accusing him of sharing blasphemous content on social media, charges investigations later determined were false. The incident happened in the northwestern city of Mardan, provoking a nationwide outcry against Khan’s brutal killing.

Earlier in February, an anti-terrorism court sentenced one person to death and 30 others to jail terms, including life imprisonment, for their role in the lynching case. (VOA)

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A Festival Celebrated By Jumping Into Wells And Lakes In Goa: Sao Jao

Celebrated by the Christian community, Sao Jao Festival is dedicated to St John the Baptist

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A Festival Celebrated By Jumping Into Wells And Lakes In Goa: Sao Jao
A Festival Celebrated By Jumping Into Wells And Lakes In Goa: Sao Jao. Pixabay

Goa, the ultimate party capital of India is a haven for beach lovers. The destination has a certain magnetic pull that makes it populated with travellers all year around. With the onset of monsoon, Goa gets ready to celebrate its rain festival called ‘Sao Jao’ dedicated to St John the Baptist. Wondering what ‘Sao Jao Festival’ is? Okay. Remember the ‘Matargashti’ song from Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone starrer ‘Tamasha’? Sao Jao is something similar to that with gorgeously dressed people dancing and having fun. The festival is power packed with music, food, dance, fun and fenny. The annual festival is celebrated on June 24th.

Celebrated by the Christian community, Sao Jao Festival is dedicated to St John the Baptist, who baptised Lord Jesus in the river of Jordan. As a symbol of baptism and cleaning, people take a dip in water bodies. Traditionally, a group of people travel all over and take a dive inside wells, ponds, and pools, and then claim a reward of jackfruit and pineapple. In addition, there are various activities planned across the state. Goans consume plenty of fruits during the festival. There is a tradition, wherein families that have newly-married couples exchange foods and gifts with their in-laws.

youngsters jumping into lake
youngsters jumping into lake. Pixabay

Also read: Goa Can Be Transformed Into The City Of Venice

The major attraction of the festival is the procession organised in the Siolim village in North Goa. In the procession, people are seen wearing crowns of leaves and fruits on heads. Lavish feast marks the end of the festival. (IANS)