Pak court grants bail to man arrested under blasphemy law

Shahid Hasan Sheikh was arrested for allegedly defiling the Quran.

Lahore: A Pakistani court has granted bail to a man arrested under the controversial blasphemy law for allegedly defiling the Quran.

Legal experts said this was the first instance in several years of a person accused of blasphemy being granted bail.

Justice Anwarul Haq of the Lahore High Court yesterday issued an order stating that Shahid Hasan Sheikh, who was arrested for blasphemy, could be released on furnishing surety bonds worth Rs 200,000.

Sheikh, a resident of Batapur, told the court through his counsel that he was implicated in a fake case by people belonging to a rival religious sect.

The man who filed the FIR against Sheikh had acted at the behest of one Malik Iftikhar, the counsel said. Sheikh was the vice-president of the Ahl-e-Hadith
Mosque Committee in Batapur and had rented out a shop in the mosque complex to Iftikhar.

When he demanded rent from Iftikhar, the latter refused to pay and got Sheikh and two of his employees implicated in the fake case, the lawyer said.

The man who filed the FIR belongs to the Barelvi school of thought and had nurtured a grudge against Sheikh, the lawyer said.

The two co-accused were earlier released on bail. Police registered an FIR against Sheikh and other accused under the blasphemy law in October 2003.