The original blasphemy law enacted by the British before partition made it a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs and intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship. While that law was created to safeguard the religious beliefs of all the different communities living together in the subcontinent, the blasphemy law, as we know it today has been distorted over the years to serve the majority of the population.

However, in anomalous turn of events, the Chichawatni city police have booked six Muslim individuals under the blasphemy law for desecrating the turban of a Sikh passenger during a scuffle.

The law, for once, has been used to protect a minority rather than target it. Mr Singh said the turban was considered sacred in the Sikh religious code and throwing it on the ground was tantamount to desecration and since he was a Pakistani national, the attackers should be booked under blasphemy law.

The argument escalated when he was travelling Faisalabad to Multan. He and other passengers complained to the transport company’s staff about the slow speed of the bus and demanded an alternative vehicle for the journey to Multan when the quarrel happened. It is the right of every consumer to complain against the services provided if they are not up to par, it does not warrant such an intense scuffle and this incident just shows the deep-seated discrimination that minorities face in Pakistan on an individual level every day.

Data provided by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) shows a total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmedis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused under various clauses of the blasphemy law since 1987. The vast majority of these cases were lodged for desecration of the Holy Quran. It is about time that equal importance be given to all religious objects and places of worship regardless of the religion in question. Even though it is unlikely that the accused in this case will be convicted of blasphemy, it is a step in the right direction taken by the law enforcement agency in showing that equality should exist within all beliefs.

That being said, the law in in need of modifications and an extensive reinterpretation of the law is required. It was made by the British Raj, and at a time when the ethnic and religious constitution of the state was absolutely different. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of law and history would know this. Yet, ignorance has allowed and old law to become a fearful weapon of exploitation.