Of the mentally challenged man facing a blasphemy charge
His destination was Peshawar, where he was to take the mentally-challenged elder brother, Rashiduddin, to a psychiatrist for the examination of deteriorating mental condition.
The two left Rech village located high in the Hindu Kush Mountains at a distance of around 150 kilometers from Chitral in a rickety jeep and reached the city several hours later.
They lodged in Room No 19 of a Shahi Masjid Road luxury hotel with a plan to leave for Peshawar on April 22 (Saturday).
Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine what happened on Friday.
Chitral?s Anwaruddin says won?t mourn brother?s execution if doctors find his mental condition to be sound
During the Friday sermon at the Shahi Masjid when Anwar was in toilet, mentally-challenged Rashiduddin stepped out of the hotel and walked for a minute to be among worshippers.
He later went to the prayer leader and uttered some words infuriating hundreds of people present in the mosque.
Several people lunged towards him. However, prayer leader Maulana Khaleequz Zaman stopped them saying the person was mentally unstable, and handed him over to the police. The police station is just across the Parade Ground situated right in front of the Shahi Masjid located on the right bank of the River Chitral.
However, the die was cast as a mob gathered after the worshippers emerged from the mosque and walked up to the police station to demand the custody of the man.
As the mob continued to swell, it grew more and more violent and tried to attack the police station. The police responded with teargas shelling and thus causing rioting, which continued until late night.
The usually tranquil city turned into a battleground between protesters and police witnessing the use of teargas for the first time in its recent history. The very next day, the police shifted Rashiduddin to Swat. He is now in Haripur jail facing the charge of blasphemy. His brother, Anwaruddin, is in the protective custody of the police in Chitral.
Anwaruddin, an economics graduate from the University of Peshawar, says Rashiduddin born in 1986 was the eldest among four brothers and two sisters and that he went to Rawalpindi to work as a labourer in 2006 after passing his matriculation examination from a village school.
?He (Rashiduddin) went to Qatar in 2008 where he was employed as mason with a major construction company, Consolidated Construction Company,? he said, adding that his elder brother used to visit home after two years.
He said Rashiduddin earned handsome money during the first six years of foreign stay alleviating their poverty and raising their living standard, while in 2012, he married one of his relatives hailing from the adjacent Khot village.
?The mental health of my brother started breaking down soon after he returned to Qatar from the village by the end of 2014.
?He gave up writing letters to us that was the only mode of communication in those days. We were later informed by the company that he was admitted to a Qatar-based hospital for the treatment of mental ailment. He remained there for two months before returning in May 2016.
?I found my brother to be a totally different person when I received him upon arrival at the Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar,? he said.
Mr Anwaruddin said his brother remained calm and composed and preferred to remain all alone after his return to the village.
He said Rashid turned fierce and violent whenever they talked about his health and wanted to take him to Peshawar for treatment and during the past 10 months in home, his condition was on deterioration constantly.
?In the beginning of this month, we decided to take him to Peshawar and also succeeded in persuading him for the treatment. We reached Chitral city April 20 where we stayed in a hotel and were scheduled to proceed to Peshawar April 22.?
Mr Anwaruddin said he began searching for his deranged brother in houses and shops of some of his relatives in the town but found him in the police station with a multitude of furious people outside calling for his public beheading over blasphemy charge.
He appreciated the mosque?s prayer leader and Chitral police for prompt action and said had that not happened, his brother would have been lynched like a Mardan university student over blasphemy charge.
?We would be first to condemn Rashiduddin for his utterances and even won?t mourn his death sentence and execution if doctors declare his mental condition to be sound,? he said.
Read Dawn’s editorial on the Chitral mob attack here.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2017