Pakistani police in the central province of Punjab reluctantly detained a Muslim cleric last week after a Christian university student savagely beaten and tortured inside a local Islamic madrasseh (seminary) died of his injuries.
Maulvi Ghulam Rasool was put under detention at a Toba Tek Singh police station at midday on May 2, about 10 hours after Javed Anjum, 19, died in a Faisalabad hospital.
Despite repeated attempts to obtain the cleric's release before judicial magistrates, he remains in temporary custody. At Saturday's hearing, the lawyer for Anjum's family persuaded the court to include the victim's deathbed statement recorded by the police on April 26 in the formal First Information Report on the case.
Monday, Judge Qamar Zaman Khoker ordered Rasool kept under physical remand for another two days, to give police until Wednesday to recover further evidence and arrest two other suspects in the crime.
"The police are trying to cooperate with us," a local Christian monitoring the case told Compass, "but the matter is politicized. The government does not want maulvis (Muslim prayer leaders) to be arrested." Maulvi arrests can damage relations with the powerful extremist bloc of the Muslim electorate, the spokesman said.
Last week, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi admitted that although Muslim religious leaders had been arrested in the past, the current government did not believe in such "extreme" action. "We will have to display sectarian harmony and unity in our ranks to dispel the impression of intolerance about Islam," Elahi was quoted as saying in the May 6 issue of The News.
Rasool has been identified as a prayer leader and watchman at the Jamia Hassan Bin Murtaza Madrasseh in Tarandi village, near Toba Tek Singh, ...1
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