A Christian man was booked for alleged blasphemy after being accused of texting an offensive message in Gujrat on July 10, 2016. Nadeem James, a 23-year-old resident of Yaqoobabad, fled his home after his family friend Yasir Bashir, 30, lodged a complaint in the Sarai Alamgir Police Station that Nadeem had sent him a blasphemous poem on WhatsApp.
“The police took away my wife Najma Bibi and my brother Shahbaz James’s wife Samreen Bibi, who was nursing one-and-half-years old son,” Faryad James told me. The police told local newspapers that the two women were being held in “protective custody” and could be released if an organization took responsibility for their safety.
Tensions rose in the area after the police detained the two women. Several Christians, including Nadeem James’s family and relatives, fled the area for the fear of their life. Locals say police has been called in from nearby precincts to keep the situation under control.
“Yasir Bashir had involved some local clerics too, who went with him to the police station to help lodge a first information report,” Faryad said. “They are now demanding Nadeem’s immediate arrest, and warn of a backlash if he is not detained.”
“On July 4, I received text messages from cell phone number [withheld] which is owned by Nadeem Masih, son of James Masih, caste Christian,” Yasir said in his complaint. “I saw these messages today, on July 10.” He said the messages were offensive to his Muslim beliefs, and asked the police to “take action against Nadeem Masih and end this social vice.”
According to the BBC Urdu, Gujrat police said it was a forwarded message, and that the matter was being investigated. The conversation shows that a religious argument was going on between Yasir Bashir and Nadeem James and the message was part of the conversation. Due to the sensitivity of the issue, 200 police personnel had been deployed in the area and the FIR was sealed, police said.