(Anawim Today)- A blasphemy case has been registered on Friday, January 29,
against Tabeeta Nazir Gill, a Christian nurse and gospel singer after she was
accused by her nursing colleagues of having committed blasphemy on Thursday.
Mrs Gill, a mother of two boys aged 12 and 13, has been working as a nurse in Sobhraj Maternity Hospital for many years. On Thursday, while she was at work her nursing colleagues put to her questions about her Christian faith before accusing her of having committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
Trouble began for
Mrs Tabeeta Gill on Thursday, January 28, when she turned up for work at the hospital. In
what appears to be a pre-planned move to implicate Mrs Gill in a blasphemy case
her nursing colleagues engaged her in a conversation around her Christian
faith. Mrs Tabeeta Gill was subsequently assaulted by her nursing colleagues who
pressured her to confess that she had committed “blasphemy” against prophet Muhammad.
Anawim Today has reviewed the police first information report (FIR) according to which Mrs Tabeeta Gill has been accused of having committed blasphemy against prophet Muhammad under section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code carries death sentence.
On Thursday, Mrs Gill in a voice message, which Anawim Today has reviewed, communicated her predicament to a family member, who wished to remain anonymous.
“I’m trapped in the hospital. My colleagues have accused me of having committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad after they asked me questions about my faith, said Mrs Gill in the voice message. “They are not letting me leave the hospital”, My life is in danger. Please help me get out of here.”
She maintained: “I’ve been confined to a room at the back of the hospital. They have informed the police and the media. They have beaten me. Please help me get out of here upon receiving this message”.
Anawim Today has seen videos where Mrs Gill is seen being slapped by her nursing colleagues. A female nurse can be seen slapping her in order to pressurise her to confess that she has committed blasphemy, a charge Mrs Gill is heard denying.
“I have not insulted anyone. This is all pre-planned”, Mrs Gill can be heard saying in her defence.
In a brazen act of vigilantism, according to some unverified social media posts, the hospital staff allegedly tied her with ropes in the hospital after slapping and punching her.
Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws continue to be used against Pakistani Christians and Muslims since they were introduced by the late military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.
In 1997 the entire Christian village of Shanti Nagar was set on fire after rumours spread that local Christians had committed blasphemy. In 2009 some 9 Christians in the Pakistani town of Gojra were burned to death. In 2014, Shahzad and Shama, Christian brick kiln workers were burned alive on unsubstantiated accusations of having committed blasphemy. In 2013 some 130 houses of Christians were torched in Joseph colony in the Pakistani eastern city of Lahore after rumours that Christians had committed blasphemy.
Efforts aimed at stopping the misuse of the laws have been abortive. In the past then president Musharraf had said that an application for the registration of a blasphemy case should be investigated by a high ranking police official. This has had no effect as the police continue to file blasphemy cases after coming under pressure from charged mobs.
At least 1,296 blasphemy cases were filed between 2011 and 2015, the latest period for which consolidated data is available.
“This is a very worrying development. People on Facebook have already branded her as a “blasphemer”. We cannot say when she will be able to clear her name from these baseless accusations. Her nursing career is finished. She wouldn’t be able to work anywhere in Pakistan let alone Karachi even after an acquittal”, said a concerned relative on condition of anonymity.
Some names and comments which appeared in the original story have been removed for security reasons to protect the identity of those involved.
Sheraz Khan is the founder and director of Anawim Today. He can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org