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Surprise reversal as police who arrested 8-year-old for blasphemy find themselves in cuffs

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Here’s how arbitrary the justice system in Pakistan can be.

In early August, international news outlets began reporting on the story of an 8-year-old Hindu boy who had been arrested for blasphemy in a religiously conservative area. In response, a Hindu temple had been ransacked by a Muslim mob after the boy was released on bail. Others in the Hindu community had fled their homes.

Days after that report was picked up, charges against the boy were dropped — and the police who arrested him found themselves in handcuffs, likely due in no small part to the outrage.

According to The Guardian, the 8-year-old was the youngest person to be charged with blasphemy after he was alleged to have intentionally urinated on the carpet in a madrassa’s library. The incident occurred in Rahim Yar Khan, a conservative district in the Pakistani state of Punjab.

The arrest touched off mob violence. The ransacking of the temple led to numerous arrests, and troops were deployed to the region.

The boy’s family, meanwhile, was in hiding.

They had good reason to be afraid, and not just of the mob. Blasphemy carries a potential death penalty in Pakistan. Even if the capital punishment isn’t applied — it hasn’t been since the death penalty for blasphemy was introduced in 1986 — those charged and convicted are often killed by mobs.

“He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters,”

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