The management of the Farooqi Girls High School, situated on the Ravi Road, denied the allegations and termed the shadowy claims a “conspiracy” by their competitors in the business of private schooling. The police had registered a case against a lady teacher, Arfa Iftikhar, but it did not confirm any arrest until late Wednesday night.
“We have registered a case (FIR No 1470/12) against the (alleged) blasphemer (lady teacher) under section 295-C (of the Pakistan Penal Code) for insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH). She has not been arrested yet but the police are raiding to capture her,” said Allah Rakha, the duty officer at Shafiqabad police station, when contacted.
The case was registered on the complaint of Abdullah Saqib, a religious cleric of the locality. But there were conflicting reports about what had actually happened.
Some protesters told reporters that Arfa had asked her students to write an essay for which she dictated to them some derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and the kids told their parents about the blasphemous material.
But the complaint had a different account of the story. He told the police that the schoolteacher Tuesday morning distributed an examination paper carrying printed derogatory remarks among more than 160 students of class-VI.
This claim was contradicted by a local resident, who said he had taken a glance at the said question paper and claimed that it was a just a plain sheet carrying handwritten material in English language rather than anything in printed form.
As the rumour about this contentious, allegedly ‘blasphemous’ paper spread around by late Tuesday night, angry locals converged outside the school building and staged strong protest demonstration against the school management. Later, the police arrived at the scene and managed to disperse the protesters.
Again on Wednesday morning, dozens of area residents gathered outside the school building and chanted slogans against the administration and the teacher. They also forced their entry into the school, ransacked the furniture and set the building alight.
Heavy police contingents reached the spot but failed to cool down the angry mob. Eyewitnesses said that the protesters thrashed Asim Farooqi, the school principal, and later handed him over to the police. But police did not confirm the arrest of the principal.
The accused schoolteacher was not present when the police raided her house in Malipura area, police sources said, adding that she had gone into hiding along with her kids. Police raids were underway till filing of this report.
Locals said the situation was quite tense in the locality, where reportedly some public representatives too were instigating protests against the management of the school, where hundreds of students are enrolled. The police are deployed around the school to keep the things under control.
Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Private Schools Management Association (APSMA), has called for constituting an independent commission to probe into what he said ‘sensitive matter.’
According to Section 295-C of the PPC, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
The incident has come at a time when the international powers are pressing Islamabad hard to amend the blasphemy law.
Javedani demanded the Punjab chief minister to personally look into the matter to ensure justice. He said that Farooqi Girls High School is among the leading institutions imparting girls’ education for the last more than 25 years. The Association president also claimed that the incident was a conspiracy against the school management.`