Lahore: A Pakistani cleric of a mosque has been arrested under terror charges for allegedly inciting a 15-year-old boy to chop off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy.
The cleric, Shabbir Ahmed, was arrested yesterday under the National Action Plan (NAP) for allegedly inciting violence during his speech in a mosque in Punjab province's Okara district last week in which he had asked the participants of a religious gathering to raise their hands who have no love for Prophet Muhammad.
The boy, Muhammad Anwar, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.
"The cleric and the other people immediately accused the boy of committing blasphemy. The cleric told the boy that he can only compensate if he chops off his 'blasphemous hand', " police said.
The boy later went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric, police said. The boy's act was reportedly celebrated by his parents and neighbours.
Local police chief Naushar Ahmed said that the family did not file any police complaint, claiming that the boy chopped off his hand to show his love for the Prophet Muhammad and the cleric had nothing to do with this act.
As the family refused to take any action against the cleric, police registered an FIR on behalf of the state under sections 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and 324 (attempted murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and arrested him yesterday.
Police officials said the cleric was arrested under the National Action Plan (NAP) which prohibits any "hate speech".
The cleric was today produced before a judicial magistrate, whoc sent him to two-day physical remand for interrogation.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can stir mob violence and lynchings.