8 year-old boy faces death penalty under blasphemy laws after ‘wetting himself in a library’
An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in Pakistan after being accused of intentionally wetting himself in a library.
The child has become the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country, a charge which can carry the death penalty.
His family is currently in hiding and many of the Hindu community in Punjab have fled the area after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the accused boy’s release on bail last week.
Soldiers were deployed to the area to help maintain peace.
On Saturday, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack.
The boy was accused of ‘intentionally urinating on a carpet’ in the library of madrassa last month, where religious books were kept.
Speaking to The Guardian from an undisclosed location, one of the boy’s family members said: “He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.
“We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area.
“We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”
Legal experts are reportedly shocked at the blasphemy charges being filed against the child.
Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty, and despite no one being executed under them since 1986, the accused are very often attacked and sometimes killed by mobs.
Ramesh Kumar, a lawmaker and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said: “The attack on the temple and blasphemy allegations against the eight-year-old minor boy has really shocked me.
“More than a hundred homes of the Hindu community have been emptied due to fear of attack.”
Kapil Dev, a human rights activist, said: “I demand charges against the boy are immediately dropped, and urge the government to provide security for the family and those forced to flee.