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Timeline: How was Asia Bibi convicted in Blasphemy case

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 31, 2018, 04.24 PM (IST)

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman charged under Blasphemy law in Pakistan was acquitted by the Pak Supreme Court today.

Asia was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. Her case had drawn much global attention and condemnation.

She was charged for Blasphemy over an incident that took place in 2009.

While working in a field in her village Asia entered into a conflict with a neighbour over drinking water from a common glass.

According to reports, the neighbour who had been at loggerheads with Asia due to some property damage, fought with her after she drank the water in a common glass which was kept near the well.

The popular belief of the region restricts christians from drinking water from the same utensil as "they are considered unclean".

The conflict between Asia and the neighbour escalated after other villagers joined the fight.

Asia recalls that she responded to the people who were making derogatory comments on her religion.

She said, "I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?"

Asia was also beaten by a mob which attacked her in her house. She was later rescued by the police and was arrested after an investigation. 

The police arrested her under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code after they launched an investigation over her remarks.

While Asia kept denying the charges claiming that she was accused by the neighbour to "settle old score", the workers complained to the cleric that Asia insulted Muhammed. 

Asia Bibi was the only christian in the village. Even before the incident, she was repeatedly asked by fellow workers to convert to Islam, she said.

Asia remained in the prison for one year before being formally charged under the law.

She was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 by a judge at the Sheikhupura court in Punjab. A fine of the equivalent of $1,100 was also imposed on her.

Asiya Bibi was put in solitary confinement in an 8-by-10 foot cell without windows at the Lahore prison.

To save Asia from any potential attack in the jail, the prison superintendent had kept her away from other inmates. She was given raw material to cook her own food out of the fear of being poisoned. 

In December 2010, a month after her conviction, a Muslim cleric had announced a 500,000 Pakistani rupee award to anyone who would kill her.

Meanwhile her family had also received consistent threats from the locals, due to which they were forced to go into hiding. The mullas had also threatened that they would kill her if she was released from the jail.

The governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti who had extended support to Asia were killed.
While Taseer was assassinated on January 4, 2011 because of his defence to Asia and opposition to the blasphemy law, Bhatti was shot dead by gunmen  on March 2, 2011.

November 2010: Asia was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law

October 16, 2014: Lahore High Court dismissed Asia's appeal and upheld her death sentence.

October 20, 2014:  Husband appealed to Pakistan's President for clemency.

October 24, 2014: Lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court.

July 22, 2015: Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended Bibi's death sentence for the duration of the appeals process.

November 2015: Bibi's lead attorney, Naeem Shakir, announced that, after two postponements in 2015, the Lahore High Court would hear an appeal in Bibi's case on 26 March 2016.

October 13, 2016: On the day of the hearing, when it was the turn of the case "Asia Bibi against the state", one of the three members of the bench of judges of that section refused to be part of the bench. His refusal had led to the postponement of the case for an undetermined date. The Judge later resigned in a handwritten letter addressed to the President of Pakistan.

26 April 2017: Chief Justice of Pakistan declined a request for the early hearing of the case of Asia Bibi in the first week of June made by her lawyer.

October 8, 2018: Three judge bench reserved its judgement on the final legal appeal.

October 31 2018: Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence.
 

Story highlights

Asia was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. Her case had drawn much global attention and condemnation.