Pak Court Gives Five-Year Jail to Taseer's Vigil Attackers

M Zulqernain/Lahore
Pak Court Gives Five-Year Jail to Taseer's Vigil Attackers

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has sentenced five religious zealots to five years in jail for attacking civil society members during a candlelight vigil on the death anniversary of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was gunned by his guard for supporting changes in the controversial blasphemy law.

ATC Lahore Judge Haroon Latif Khan yesterday convicted five accused -- Adeel, Furqan, Kashif, Iftikhar and Wazir -- all members of 'Lovers of Mumtaz Qadri Movement' under five different sections of the law.

The court acquitted two suspects, Din Muhammad and Sajid, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The court also imposed Rs 40,000 fine on each of the convicts who would have to undergo six-month additional imprisonment for failing to pay the amount.

The Trial of the prime suspect, Mumtaz Sindhi, was yet to be completed.

More than a dozen baton-wielding men had attacked the participants of the candlelight vigil on the fifth death anniversary of Taseer on January 4 at the famous Liberty Roundabout here.

The attackers also tore the banners, pictures and posters displayed at the venue.

Taseer, who was known for his liberal views, was gunned down on January 4, 2011, in Islamabad by his police guard Mumtaz Husain Qadri for calling the controversial blasphemy laws "black" and supporting a Christian woman, Asia Masih, who was handed down a death sentence by a Pakistani court for blasphemy.

Qadri has been awarded death penalty by a court.

Civil society activist Abdullah Malik, who was thrashed during the vigil, said that three of the convicts are the post-graduate students of a reputed university of Lahore and the other two are qualified professionals.

"The sad part of this story is that the convicts are highly-qualified youngsters. They were brainwashed by a local cleric who convinced them that Taseer was a blasphemer and those holding vigil to remember him are committing sin," he said.

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